Our long-term project guided by a simple proposition: there is always a better use for a piece of land than as a place for a prison.
Across the United Kingdom, nearly 150 prisons occupy hundreds, if not thousands, of hectares of land; land that could be used for homes or hospitals; community gardens or community centres; business hubs or green energy power stations. There are so many ways that the land currently occupied by prisons could be used in better ways
Reducing the prison population has also long been an aim of penal reformers, but the conversation is often focused on stemming the flow in through sentencing reforms and non-judicial measures. Permanently taking capacity out of the system by closing prisons tends to be overlooked.
The project involves locally and nationally focused activities. At the local level, we are working with communities around specific prisons to develop plans for how the land prisons occupy might be better used for the benefit of the local community.
These local activities will inform national work, which will look more strategically at how a sustained programme of prison closure and land reuse might be achieved.