Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/501/3120

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 September 2007

Overcrowded prisons, overworked staff

BRITAIN'S PRISON officers held their first-ever national strike, mainly on pay, in August. Another major issue that strikers raised was that of conditions. Prisons are still massively overcrowded. According to the National Offender Management Service 80,762 people were in prison in August. Prison officers are also very overstretched, which is bad for prison officers and prisoners alike.

Iain Dalton

The government response has been a limited early release programme (ECL) and a new prison-building programme. Early release of prisoners has been part of Britain's penal system for over 100 years, although the last Tory government drastically curtailed this, adding 1,000 extra prisoners into the system, under Michael Howard's slogan of 'prison works'.

The law allows prisoners to be released on the Home Secretary's power up to six months early. Former Home Secretary John Reid limited it to 18 days, in line with Labour's right-wing law and order policies.

The tabloid press protested nonetheless over prisoners being given 170 cash on leaving prison. But all prisoners get this money, usually 45, to help them survive until they can sign on and start claiming benefits. Prisoners released under ECL are given extra money because they cannot sign on until the days they are released early have passed. They are still technically prisoners.

However, pressure from right-wingers led to this scheme being scrapped. ECL prisoners get only 45, which is supposed to last them until they can start claiming benefits, up to a month. Probation officers' union NAPO calls this a recipe for re-offending.

The government are also building more prisons to provide 9,500 extra places by 2014, although their own estimates show that at the rate prisons are filling, the cells will run out again then.

Moreover, at present up to 400 police cells are holding prisoners who won't fit in prison. This is at a huge cost. New Labour have privatised both police cells and prisons. Increases in prison populations will be another vehicle for this privatisation, making prisons even more like human warehouses.

All the main parties have the same vision for their law and order agenda, of more and more of the population being locked away, similar to the USA. Socialists wholeheartedly disagree with such ideas.

The Prison Officers Association have welcomed the announcements of new prisons. But the prison service, like other state institutions under capitalism, is drastically under-funded.

Striking prison officers interviewed by the socialist stressed that staffing has been drastically cut over the last few years.

Understaffing means that prisoners spend more time locked up in cells rather than doing any activities, frustrating for staff and prisoners alike. This situation will worsen if any further expansion of the prison population through building new prisons goes ahead.

Socialists argue for a radical decrease in the prison population. Many people are locked up due to debt and poverty.

Moreover, sentences handed out by courts have crept up in length and the proportion sent to prison for more than 30 years, despite the crime rate going down over recent years.

To implement this reduction, socialists call for the democratic election of judges, subject to recall.

Moreover, we demand the release of all people imprisoned for fine defaults, ASBO defaults and other trivial offences, with democratically elected bodies to review all other cases.

Socialists do not necessarily oppose building new prisons. But we would argue that any new prisons need to be part of a plan to reduce the jail population, through replacing older prisons with newer ones, which held fewer prisoners but with more facilities and better conditions.

This would free up staff to reduce the prisoner-staff ratio, whilst providing better prison facilities. But these prisons should not be built and run by the private sector with their history of providing poorer quality prisons.

Moreover, socialists demand that privatised prisons are renationalised too.

Such a programme would reduce the overcrowding crisis in prisons. However, to tackle the problem of crime a socialist programme is needed that would give jobs and training for all on a living wage, with housing and other essentials of life under public ownership and control.

Prisons should be geared towards helping offenders overcome any problems such as not being able to read or write.

Combined with the measures above, most prisoners would be able to emerge into a meaningful life on the outside and escape the re-offending trap that sees six in ten of those who are released back inside within two years.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 13 September 2007:

Fighting Unions Need a New party

Postal workers: "We have the power!"

TUC conference: Standing up to Brown's attacks

Needed: a combative trade union movement


War and terrorism

Iraq: Get the troops out now


Workplace news and events

Tube workers' strike scores victory

Bosses get away with murder


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Nurses strike

Manchester cuts maternity services

Leeds - no more deficits and cuts


APEC summit

APEC summit: Thousands defy police crackdown


Socialist Party news and analysis

Overcrowded prisons, overworked staff

Keeping tabs on the millions?

A life of debt and poverty?


Socialist Party feature

Tory party struggles to recapture territory taken by New Labour


International news and analysis

Impressions of China


Socialist Party review

Robert Blincoe - a life that illuminates an age


 

Home   |   The Socialist 13 September 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Prison conditions:

triangle20 years ago: the Strangeways prison riot

Prisons:

triangle4,800 young people hurt after officers 'restrain' them

triangleRate of black imprisonment worse than US

trianglePrison deaths scandal

Benefits:

triangleTwo in five 'right to buy' homes now for let

triangleWaltham Forest Universal Credit protest

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

Privatised:

triangleProfiteering NHS counter-fraud firm in alleged case of... fraud

triangle900 carers quit a day - nationalise social care now

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/12/17

Haringey

Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

16/12/17

North West

Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

14/12/17

Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

13/12/17

London

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

12/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle16 Dec Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangle16 Dec Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2