In response to the publication this morning of the government’s consultation on so-called ‘Titan’ prisons, the Prison Reform Trust has today released the June 2008 Bromley Briefings prison factfile with the latest facts and figures on the state of our prisons and the state of people in them. 

Commenting, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

Building so-called ‘Titan’ jails and increasing prison capacity marks the end of the government’s commitment to get tough on the causes of crime. 

Why would any anyone determined to reduce social exclusion and cut crime want to invest billions of public money in failed institutions when they could fund treatment for addicts, better mental health care and early intervention to steer young people out of trouble?

Do people really want giant prisons overshadowing local communities run on the cheap with fewer staff but better IT and electronic devices? 

This blinkered consultation fails to ask fundamental questions about the best ways to use substantial public monies to reduce re-offending and instead asks what sort of monster should we go for. It accepts, without question, that the prison population in England and Wales will rise to over 100,000 making us not only the greatest incarcerator in Western Europe but taking us past very many Eastern European countries too. 

There is evidence, here and overseas, that giant institutions do not work. The Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Prison Governors’ Association have sounded safety warnings. The consultation time must be used to steer Ministers away from making a gigantic and costly mistake that others will live to regret.