On 9 November 2015, the British Government announced a ‘prison building revolution’, committing to the construction of nine new prisons across England and Wales.
The Reclaim Justice Network has issued the following statement supporting the closure and demolition of existing prisons and calling for the land to be handed over to local authority control for social housing.
Imprisonment and punishment in the UK has proven to be an appalling failure.
Over the last 30 years, the UK has become over-reliant on police and prisons as a primary means for dealing with social problems. The number of people criminalised and sent to prison has spiralled out of control. Re-conviction rates remain high, victims’ needs are not met and social inequalities have continued to grow. The current use of imprisonment is unsustainable, unethical and ineffective in responding to social problems and harms.
We are calling for an immediate moratorium on prison construction. We support plans for the closure and demolition of existing prisons and demand that the land be signed over to local authority control on the agreement that it is used for much needed social housing.
This is an opportunity for a fundamental rethink in how our society responds to harm. A key part of such an approach should be to strengthen welfare and local services – and scale back the number of people criminalised and imprisoned. We need to build safe and healthy communities – not prisons.
The Reclaim Justice Network
The Network is organising a public meeting to discuss the impact of the government’s plans. This will take place in London at 6.30pm on Wednesday 24 February 2016. Further details will be available on their website in due course.