downsizing prisons

Halve prison numbers to cut spending?

The Ministry of Justice should halve the prison population if it wants to meet the target cuts in departmental spending set out by the Chancellor, says the Howard League for Penal Reform. The proposal, announced today, formed the basis of the Howard League's submission to the government's Spending Review 2015, which asked departments without ring-fenced budgets to submit plans to reduce spending by 25-40 per cent.

Investigating alternatives to custody across Europe

This month sees the Centre starting work on a new project comparing alternatives to incarceration across eight European countries.

The European Observatory on Alternatives to Incarceration, a two year project funded by the European Union, will draw on the expertise of organisations in eight European countries to establish a comparative picture of the use, implementation and success of alternatives to prison in each country. Crucially it intends to identify measures which have reduced the use of custody.

Wrong question. Wrong answer

Richard Garside reviewed David G. Green, Emma Grove and Nadia A. Martin, Crime and Civil Society: Can we become a more law-abiding people? (London: Civitas, February 2005) and Michael Jacobson, Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration (New York and London: New York University Press, January 2005) for Prison Service Journal, October 2005, Issue 161.

Downsizing prison

Last week I wrote that a coherent plan of action to control and reduce the prison population in the UK was desperately needed to arrest the alarming drift towards ever higher prison numbers.

So what might such a plan look like? How can we downsize prison?

Here are my suggestions, in the form of five propositions.

Nine prisoners a day

I’ve been tracking the UK prison population since the beginning of the year to get a sense of some of the underlying trends.

My interest here is the UK prison population, not just the prison population of England and Wales, a figure more commonly the focus of London-based policy elites.

I’m also interested in the total population under a prison sentence. This includes those serving a Home Detention Curfew: the latter stages of a prison sentence served under a form of house arrest.

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