In the latest issue of Red Pepper magazine our Senior Policy Associate Rebecca Roberts writes about the closure of Holloway prison and the Centre's two year project to develop a Community Plan for the site.
This initiative offers an opportunity to think through how best to tackle a range of social problems in a local context. By bringing people together to focus on addressing housing, health, environmental sustainability and other community needs it should be possible to create a practical yet transformative vision of what could exist in place of prisons.
There is mounting local interest in the future of the site and calls are growing for it to be used for the benefit of the community. Rebecca interviewed local campaigners, including Andy Bain, who is a member of the Islington branch of the Axe the Housing Act campaign group. Speaking on the possibilities for the site, Andy said:
In both a local and national context, what happens at Holloway is very important. It should be remembered that the Holloway site is still owned by the government and is, in effect, public land. It could fire the starting gun for a new council house building revolution.
Maureen Mansfield highlights the needs of women in the criminal justice system and the potential uses for the land:
Women imprisoned on this site were disproportionately from black and minority ethnic communities and the majority were poor, with traumatic histories, suffering from mental health and addiction issues. Instead of punishment they need access to safe and secure housing, therapeutic support and adequately resourced services. We have a chance here to build social justice solutions outside the criminal justice system, including addressing local housing need, but there is so much potential for the site.