Prison: the facts

Want to see what life is like for the people who live and work in the UK's overcrowded prison system?

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One to One

juliet lyon'One to One'  is a series of interviews broadcast on Radio 4 in which journalist Anita Anand discovers what drives people to pursue certain careers. 

Her first guest was PRT director, Juliet Lyon. In her early 20s Juliet fostered children, and went on to work in a school at the adolescent-unit of a psychiatric hospital. One patient was due to enter a young offenders' institution, so she went to see what it was like. Shocked by what she found, she knew she wanted to try and improve conditions within prisons.

Click this link to listen to the interview

 

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Government plans to hold young children and girls with older teenage boy in a proposed new 320-place secure college in Leicester suffered a defeat in the House of Lords on Tuesday 9 December. Peers voted by a majority of 64 to insist on an amendment, introduced in the report stage of the bill, preventing girls and boys under the age of 15 being housed in secure colleges for young offenders. Read of copy of PRT’s joint briefing with the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, the Children’s Rights Alliance and the Howard League for Penal Reform by clicking here.

You can also read the debate by clicking here.

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The high court has overturned the restrictions on prisoners receiving book under the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme. Changes to the IEP scheme introduced in November 2013 included a ban on prisoners receiving parcels, including books, writing materials and other basic items. The policy must now be amended so that it excludes prisoners receiving books from friends and family. In his judgement, Mr Justice Collins said that as far as books are concerned, "to refer to them as a privilege is strange".

Earlier this year the Prison Reform Trust published a briefing, Punishment without purpose, highlighting the impact of the changes to the IEP scheme on rehabilitation, fairness and decency behind bars. Commenting on the briefing in his judgment, Mr Collins said:

“A report from the Prison Reform Trust has highlighted the hostility to the new PSI and has set out concerns that it is undermining the rehabilitative purpose of prisoners. It is what is seen to be the ban on receipt of parcels or items from visitors which has provided the greatest concern. The inclusion of books in the scheme is seen as a ban. Overall, the IEP as now operated seems to fail to recognise that it is deprivation of liberty that is the penalty imposed and that any further restrictions must be fully justified.”


Read a copy of the briefing by clicking here.

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This year's Longford Lecture, was held in association with PRT  on Thursday 27 November at Church House, Westminster. Nils Öberg, Head of Sweden’s prison and probation service spoke about how Sweden is closing prisons and reducing the prison population.

Since 2004, Swedish prisoner numbers have fallen from 5,722 to 4,500 out of a population of 9.5 million, and last year four of the country’s 56 prisons were closed and parts of other jails mothballed. In contrast, the prison population in England and Wales is now 84,691 out of a population of 57 million.

Read the speech Read his interview with PRT Trustee Erwin James in the Guardian by clicking the 'read more' link below

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The Prison Reform Trust in partnership with leading thinktanks is providing platforms for the three main political parties to outline their justice proposals in the pre-election period. On Tuesday 18 November the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP, Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties, delivered the keynote address at a meeting jointly hosted by the Prison Reform Trust and Centre Forum at the Mothers’ Union in Westminster.

Click 'read more' to read the speech.

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