Reclaim Justice Network response: New prisons will lead to waste of life

STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The government’s prison building programme will lead to a tragic waste of lives and resources, says the Reclaim Justice Network in response to the announcement of four new prisons in England and Wales.

We need a frank and honest debate about the negative impact of new prisons on local communities. New prisons can have potentially negative impacts on the community including pressure on local services, concerns around safety, loss of jobs through prison industries, harmful consequences on the families of prisoners (especially children) and deterioration in local health care provision.

The only ‘winners’ here are the companies profiting from the construction of these vast institutions. As with other prison building programmes such as at the recently opened HMP Berwyn in North Wales, the government has made unsubstantiated claims about the so called ‘benefits’ to local economies and communities.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr David Scott, a member of the Reclaim Justice Network said,

“Given the historic failings of the prison to meet its rehabilitation goals and the current tightening of government budgets, when it comes to dealing with overcrowded prisons the most sensible and rational approach is to reduce the prison population. We should not be spending taxpayers’ money on new mega prisons but rather reinvest the proposed money to help ordinary people live decent and fulfilling lives in the community.”

Prisons are places of violence, suffering and death. The prison building programme is a hugely emotive issue and will lead to a tragic waste of resources and lives. If the government was serious about creating safer and healthier communities then they would focus on investing in welfare provision, education and health care for all.

NOTES:

1. Pressure has been mounting on the government since the start of the year to halt the £1.3bn prison building programme. Grass roots organisations, including Reclaim Justice Network, Reclaim Holloway, JENGBA, INQUEST, Action for Trans Health and SMASH IPP are calling for a moratorium on prison building.

2. Reclaim Justice Network is a collaboration of individuals, groups, campaigners, activists, trade unionists, practitioners and researchers and people most directly affected by criminal justice systems, who are working together to radically reduce the size and scope of criminal justice systems and to build effective and socially just alternatives. www.downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com

3. Dr David Scott is a member of the Reclaim Justice Network at works at the Open University. He has been researching prisons for more than 20 years and has published 8 books on prisons and punishment.

ENDS

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