More mega-prisons won't fix a broken society

Date: 
Wednesday, 08 February, 2017

In an article for the OpenDemocracy website, our Senior Policy Associate, Rebecca Roberts, has criticised the government's plans to expand the prison system by 10,000 places and build new prisons, arguing that it will do little to solve the ongoing crisis in the system.

Rebecca describes how the prison reform programme is part of the wider public sector reform of asset stripping, privatisation and deregulation in which the burden of austerity is imposed on individual prison governors under the guise of greater autonomy. 

Supporting calls for an immediate halt to the prison building programme, she agrees that the £1.3bn allocated for new prison builds would be more wisely invested in community and welfare provision.

She writes,

Prisons have historically held a disproportionate number of people in poverty, in mental distress, the homeless and black and minority ethnic people. Over recent years, these inequalities have become more pronounced and building more prisons will simply result in more of the same. Rather than being places of justice, prisons are monuments to social injustice. They expose a woeful lack of imagination and ambition to take seriously the harms we all face in society. To do so would involve looking far beyond the prison walls to building the social and economic infrastructure that meets people’s needs and shields them from harm. Such a vision is both practical and possible, and ultimately doable.

You can read the article in full on OpenDemocracy