Lib Dems condemn Gove’s prison reforms

So the Government thinks the solution to the crisis in our prisons is to give governors more power rather than have a more strategic sense of what the prison system is for and how best to lessen re-offending and properly rehabilitate offenders.

Liberal Democrat peer Jonathan Marks is unimpressed with the Government’s plans. He said:

It is a scary thought that the grand architect who oversaw the dismantling of the school system as we knew it is now getting his hands all over the nation’s prisons.

It is no secret that our prison system is in crisis. We lock up far too many people each year with inadequate facilities and staffing.

These reforms might tackle the problems at the surface but without root and branch reform of our criminal justice system the whole process will be built to fail.

The academy model for schools is falling apart as we speak so why the Government feels that this template is appropriate for prisons is incomprehensible.

Instead we should be focusing on ensuring that our criminal justice system is centred on rehabilitation and diverting people away from prisons wherever possible rather than this continued obsession with locking them up.

For those who do have to go to prison, we should be putting education at the heart of the prison system, to give prisoners the skills to lead a productive life on release; we should be helping prisoners deal with mental health issues and histories of  drug and alcohol abuse; we should be focusing on offering them meaningful support in preparing for release. These things can only be achieved if we increase staffing in prisons, cut overcrowding, and give prisoners a proper amount of time out of their cells.

Just making some structural changes will be no more effective than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic unless we provide the extra resources and the commitment to make prisons work as places of rehabilitation.

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One Comment

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th May '16 - 1:12am

    We should be putting work at the heart of the prison system and far too many offenders lack the realisation that what they do wrecks lives , theirs , and their families and most importantly ,their victims , where there are victims .It is interesting to read Lord Marks on prisoners in the same week his fellow peer Lord Lester , a lawyer better suited to such issues than the BBC and licence fee he obsessed about , which for non payment , often leads to …prison !

    Some joined up thinking would be welcome , as would some genuine reform rather than soft soap.We can advocate for that which is humane to the victim more often , and in that , be far more Liberal and liberal !

    When is the party going to remember that being a voice for the vulnerable means getting back to where things were when Simon Hughes was dealing with theses issues and was just that voice ! The most vulnerable are not firstly , the prisoners , but the victims, first.

    The trouble with prison is many are there who are themselves victims of circumstance , in for pettiness that if dealt with earlier would lead to other solutions .Many are the perpetrators of misdeeds financial , best dealt with by pay back and community sentences.

    Hard work , sport and lessons in self awareness and realisation of where they went wrong and what to do about it ,and restoration is what is needed. Too much attention to tedious and “useful education”, rather than learning about themselves first , and why what they did was wrong . Very stiff upper lip , “get on with it “, nonsense , as if getting a “skill” is all !

    If this was an extract from Lord Marks , good.Otherwise were it the whole , not good enough.Radical can mean many things .We are only radical when we do not go for the obvious all the time , on every issue , however noble the motive , true on junior doctors , on BBC and prison.Radical would speak for patients with cancelled operations , before doctors or ministers, speak for licence payers unable to afford the draconian licence fee before BBC hierarchy , and for victims before anything in criminal justice .Oh.And it would be popular too, as well as right !

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