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The Prison Reform Trust has today (25 September) published its response to HM Treasury’s consultation on this year’s Budget, which highlights concerns about the viability of the Ministry of Justice’s prison building programme in light of the projected increase in prison numbers.

An additional and unanticipated rise in prison numbers, together with alarming new population projections, raise serious doubts about the sustainability of the prison estate transforming programme. Without the option of closing older prisons, as now appears inevitable under the current population projections, no funds are released to run the new prisons planned—still less to finance the building and running of new prisons that will be required over and above the 10 committed by the previous government.

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Photo: Stacey Oliver

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We are very pleased and excited to announce that Paula Harriott has been appointed to the role of head of prisoner engagement at the Prison Reform Trust. This new senior management position reflects our desire to give a louder voice to prisoners and their families both in meeting the challenges of prison reform and in how PRT itself operates.

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Over the last 18 months Prison Reform Trust has been encouraged to discover a variety of peer led services which provide information to prisoners about rules and procedures in custody and which complement the work that our Advice and Information service delivers.  These services help people understand the experiences they are having in prison, who they can go to for support and how to challenge any treatment which they think is not fair or decent.  

By visiting and speaking to the staff and prisoners who are running these services we have collated examples of good practice and devised a step by step toolkit for setting up a peer led service information service in a prison. This has been supported by input from Prisoners' Advice Service and St Giles Trust who have a wealth of experience and expertise in this field.

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Today the BBC Radio 4 Today programme covered the decision by the Parole Board to release James Ward. In 2006 James was given an IPP sentence with a 10 month tariff. 11 years later he remains in custody.
 
The Parole Board’s decision will come as an immense relief to James and his family who have fought tirelessly to highlight the injustice of his continued detention. His case highlights the devastating impact of the IPP on them and thousands of people serving the discredited IPP sentence, imprisoned not for what offences they did commit but for what they might do.

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