Michael Gove has vowed to close down “ageing and ineffective” Victorian jails and sell off their sites to fund new buildings to replace them, in his first major speech on prisons policy.
Michael Gove referenced HMP Pentonville as the “most conspicuous” and “most dramatic example of failure within the prison estate”, leading the way for suggestions that the prison could be the first to fall to make for more modern facilities.
A recent report found that the prison, supposed to hold 900 prisoners, houses 1,300 and had bloodstained walls, piles of rubbish and food waste, increasing levels of violence, and widespread drug-taking.
Much of the money would be raised from the selling off of sites in the inner-city for development, paving the way for prisoners to gain much more humane living and learning quarters. The justice secretary said the new buildings could be used to significantly improve the security and safety of prisons. Gove confirmed he was considering an “earned release scheme”, meaning that prisoners that work hard, display exemplary attitude and gain their qualifications will have a chance of being released early.
There are, however, limitations to this policy. Rather than being available to all prisonsers, regardless of circumstance, it is likely to apply to most of the 86,000 prisoners who are serving fixed-term sentences that lead them to being automatically released when they reach the halfway point.
The Conservatives first floated the idea of earned release in 2008 as an alternative to automatic release at the halfway point of a prison term, but estimated it might need an extra 5,000 prison places to accommodate those who failed to respond to the incentive.
Original Source (full article): The Guardian