The British prison system is in disarray. The UK now has the highest number of in-mates per capita of any country within Western Europe. There are simply are not enough spaces within the current system to house offenders.
All the Yes points:
- Overcrowded prisons are creating poor environments for prisoners.
- There is simply not enough space to deal with offenders
All the No points:
- Rehabilitation is the answer not extra prison spaces.
- The re-introduction of Prison Ships could help ease numbers
- The new prisons will just fill up as well.
- Communities nearby the prisons will suffer.
- No,just toughen it up.
- Too many prisons.
Overcrowded prisons are creating poor environments for prisoners.
Overcrowding of prisons obviously has a detrimental effect on conditions within a prison. With more in-mates there is less money for each individual, and standards in prisons suffer. Some might say that this isn’t a problem; that as they have broken the law we should not be overly concerned with their rights. However, research has showed evidence that poor prison conditions can lead to higher rates of prisoner suicides, as well as increasing the likelihood that that prisoners re-offend when they are released.
This obviously has an effect for the general public if criminals are being released from prison and then re-offending, and need to be made aware of how prison conditions can have an effect on them.
Should we really be concerned about prisoners having relatively poor living conditions? We need prison to be a deterrent and having good conditions would not be a good way of doing this.
There is simply not enough space to deal with offenders
The Prison system is groaning under the weight of offenders, and if steps aren’t taken to increase capacity the prison system could face a real crisis. Many of our prisons are operating at more than twice the allotted space for inmates. There are currently around 84,000 people incarcerated in British prisons. However, that figure is set to rise to 96,000 by 2014. [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/aug/25/prison-reform-trust-jails-overcrowded]]
Rehabilitation is the answer not extra prison spaces.
Imprisoning convicts does not challenge the root cause of why people commit crimes in the first place. More attempts have to be made to rehabilitate criminals to try to understand the reasons for crime and to help reduce the number of criminals re-offending, as well as helping them re-integrate into society. [[http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article3300130.ece]]
The re-introduction of Prison Ships could help ease numbers
Although not a permanent solution the re-introduction of prison ships could help ease conventional prison numbers and provide a stop gap for the prison system while it deals with the broader problem of overcrowding. [[http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/public_sector/article7006820.ece]]
Prison ships have problems of their own – they are substandard conditions to house prisoners – they are too claustrophobic, there is too big a security risk and there is not enough provision for exercise and vocational workshops- they are also dangerous if anything even slightly malfunctions on board the ship. They also failed the last time they were used and they were not correctly used as a temporary measure but left running for too long.
The new prisons will just fill up as well.
Building more prisons will just be seen as an opportunity to fit more prisoners in them and worry less about space. As nothing has been done to actually solve the problems leading to prison overcrowding, the number of prisoners will continue building up over time until the new prisons are all full as well. Building prisions is not the way to tackle overcrowding. This is because “Wherever we build prisons, the courts will make use of them.”[[Andrew Coyle, You can’t solve overcrowding by building more prisons, The Guardian, 1/4/08, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/01/justice.prisonsandprobation%5D%5D Essentially if there is space that space will get used as judges come under more and more pressure to impose longer sentences and have more minimum sentances imposed. So the prisions simply fillup quicker.
Simply put if our prisions are getting filled up then it means we are convicting more people than are coming out of prision. So even with more space the celing would eventually be hit, it would just be later.
Communities nearby the prisons will suffer.
The extra prisons have to be built somewhere and the communities closest to the prisons are going to suffer as a result. Higher security prisons can be built in places away from communities but we will eventually run out of suitable spaces. Not surprisingly communities near to possible new prisions are againsts them “We are here to support the vast majority of people in Warrington who want nothing to do with the Labour Government’s plans for a new Titan prison in our town,” “a prison on the Omega site is a mistake for Warrington. The Lib Dems are proud to join with local people and fight for what is best for our town.”[[http://warringtonlibdems.org.uk/news/000102/warrington_lib_dems_join_the_public_to_put_new_prison_proposal_back_behind_bars.html]] The same would be likely to happen everywhere. The opposition parties are able to take it up as a cause and a way to gain more votes as residents do not want a nearby prison.
The Department of Justice asserts that prisions can be a part of the community.Jack Straw
There should be a new “contract” between offenders and the community The idea is to balance the opportunities we give offenders to turn away from crime with what the community expects in return.
That… means giving the community a greater role in setting out what is expected of offenders… Gloucester prison, for instance, has been running a scheme where the hours of work a prisoner clocks up contribute to a “timebank” which stores pledged hours of volunteering. In this way the work done in prison – in Gloucester’s case repairing bicycles that are sent to developing countries – benefits the local community. An hour’s work on the inside can mean a lift to the shops for an elderly person on the outside, or a hospital visit or time spent by volunteers to clean the local park.
Through such projects a prison becomes an active part of a community, which is constructive for offenders and for the communities they have wronged. It is not just the prison walls themselves that will offer a visible symbol of justice being done.
[[Jack Straw, The £37,000 question, The Guardian, 27/3/08, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/27/prisonsandprobation.justice%5D%5D
No,just toughen it up.
We do not need more prisons we just need to make the deterent tougher. The British prison is one big club with all the free amenities. If the sentences were tougher and longer it would deter a lot from entering a life of crime. There are far too many short sentences which result in the idiots knowing they will not be there long so have fun whilst there with the same ilk,and their bills paid. No more prisons just more time.
Too many prisons.
There are too many prisons as it is. They are too comfortable and free easy living full of too many returning short term offenders. Make prison tougher,less comfortable and longer sentences to deter the majority from returning. So what if they are overcrowded ? they should not have put themselves there, it was their choice. We want deterents not more expensive and unnecesaryprisons.