Policy

Radicalisation in prisons

22/08/2016 09:48:00

Commenting on the government's announcement on tackling Islamic radicalisation in prisons, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"The review proposed small units for a very few prisoners—and as a temporary expedient, not a permanent regime. The goal must be to get people back into the main prison community, so that changes in their behaviour can be observed. Anything else is just storing up an even more difficult problem for when they are eventually released.

"Faith is overwhelmingly a constructive force within prisons and the prison Imams who undertake this most challenging role deserve the Government's complete support—they are part of the solution not the problem. Sensible, proportionate measures to deal with a small minority of extremist prisoners who seek to undermine that work are welcome. But they will all rely on adequate resourcing - better trained staff can only use new skills if prisoners are unlocked and engaging with them."

Peter appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. You can listen to it by clicking here.

You can also read Peter's recent article in Counter Terror Business on how our justice system should respond to radicalisation by clicking here.

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Queen’s speech: Prisons Bill

18/05/2016 12:50:00

Commenting on today’s announcement of a Prisons Bill in the Queen’s Speech, Juliet Lyon director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“It's good that prison reform is at the top of the government’s agenda—for far too long prisons have been our most neglected, least visible public service. The most pressing priority is to restore prison safety and stem the catastrophic rise in suicides, violence and disorder.

More freedom for governors, long overdue access to modern IT, sensible plans for release on temporary licence and constructive use of tagging to curtail liberty should all be part of a modern justice system. 

But reform will run into the sand unless government is prepared to tackle prison numbers and introduce major sentencing reform as part of its groundbreaking Prisons Bill."

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In his budget George Osborne announce a potential devolution of criminal justice commissioning to Greater Manchester. In this article published in the Justice Gap Peter Dawson, PRT’s deputy director, examines what this might entail and what consequences such a move would have for the criminal justice system generally.

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Deputy Director, Peter Dawson has written his thoughts on David Cameron's speech.

An honest reaction to David Cameron’s speech on prison reform? Well, more meat than might have been expected—and a really welcome rabbit out of the hat in ‘banning the box’ for all civil service appointments, allowing ex offenders to compete on fair terms for several hundred thousand jobs. The Prime Minister robustly dismissed the myths both that prison is too soft, and that mass imprisonment might reduce crime.
But some very big questions remain for Michael Gove to answer over the next few months.

Read the full article by clicking 'read more'

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Charities and local businesses are struggling to fill volunteer and work placements as a result of strict rules on the temporary release of prisoners introduced by the former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

The changes to release on temporary licence (ROTL) are squandering the goodwill of voluntary and private sector organisations and preventing prisoners from getting jobs and training in the community to help them turn their lives around, a joint briefing published today by Clinks and the Prison Reform Trust reveals.

Click 'read more' for the full story.

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People held in segregation in prisons experience impoverished regimes with poor levels of purposeful activity. More than half suffer from three or more mental health problems, an in-depth research report published today (17 December 2015) by the Prison Reform Trust reveals. The report finds that segregation units and close supervision centres (CSCs) entail social isolation, inactivity, and increased control of prisoners—a combination proven to harm mental health and wellbeing.

Click 'read more' for the full story

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An explosion in the use of indeterminate sentences and the increased use of long determinate sentences are key drivers behind the near doubling of prison numbers in the past two decades. The latest edition of the Bromley Briefing Prison Factfile, published today (30 November) by the Prison Reform Trust, reveals the cost of our addiction to imprisonment in wasted time, money and lives.

For the full story click 'read more'.

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Reforming our prisons

16/11/2015 11:54:00

As we begin Prisons Week (15–21 November) Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, has written an article in this month's edition of The Friend magazine. You can read the full article by clicking 'read more'.

“Prison is a place where people are sent as a punishment, not for further punishments...Human beings whose lives have been reckoned so far in costs—to society, to the criminal justice system, to victims and to themselves—can become assets—citizens who can contribute and demonstrate the human capacity for redemption.”

These were the words of the incoming Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, in July this year. For Friends, and others with a longstanding commitment to prison reform, this was a welcome reassertion of the principles which should underpin any civilised penal system. So far so good. However, the Justice Secretary has inherited a system that is deteriorating both on internal and external measures, and a requirement to carve anything from 25% to 40% out of its budget over the next five years.

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Commenting on today’s (9 November 2015) announcement that the Ministry of Justice will build nine new prisons, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“The Justice Secretary’s commitment to better conditions and more effective rehabilitation are welcome. Many of our prisons need to be shut down.

"But prison reform is about more than replacing old buildings.  The crisis he faces now is with prisons that have deteriorated sharply as budgets have been slashed and staff numbers cut. Pressure on the system has to be relieved by revising the sentencing framework and curbing ever lengthening sentence lengths , investing now in diverting addicts and people with mental health needs into treatment and dealing with the forgotten thousands of prisoners still held long beyond terms set by courts.

"To live within his means, Michael Gove needs to close many more prisons than he builds. He can do that safely and the time has come to set out how.”

You can also read our response to the Spending Review by clicking here.

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