Crisis In Prison Essay

1797 words - 8 pages

Evidence for a crisis has occurred many times within these 30 years. The past few years has seen the prison system without a single spare cell for new inmates. Prison officers being jailed for planning attacks on inmates. The appalling racist murder of Zahid Mubarek in 2000 who was killed by an inmate, The closure of Shrewsbury prison even though it was described as a "high-performing prison". As well as the riots which have occurred in the privatised prison of .......This is just to name a few of the terrible events which have contributed to the crisis within the past 30 years. The penal system is struggling already and the latest ...view middle of the document...

The article puts forward the idea of a ‘toxic mix’ of different and difficult (often mentally ill) together in an unsecure and poorly maintained prison which could easily cause an ‘explosion’.

One of the aspects of the orthodox account of the prison crisis is the high prison population. The prison population in England and Wales is incredibly high and is only increasing. The prison population has doubled from 39,820 in 1975 to 86,352 in June. This is a dramatic increase especially when in 1975 the prison population was already a cause for concern. In December 2011 reached an all time high of 88,179 following the summer urban riots. Unfortunately according to predicted trends the prison population is only going to increase. It is predicted to rise up to 94,800 if current trends continue (ministry of justice 2001d)
There are several problems within the penal system responsible for the increase in prison population. One of which is the decision of the courts. Whether the offender should be sent to prison or not and, if so, how long for. These court decisions can be easily influenced by government policies; In the 1980’s Margaret Thatcher made punishments harsher and in turn there were more people convicted and sentenced for a longer period of time, not always in proportion to their offence. As a result there was a significant increase in the prison population. During the period of 1987 and onwards Home secretary Douglas Hurd (1985-1989) Margaret Thatcher’s policies became less dogmatic and more pragmatic. This brought about the criminal justice act 1991 which aimed to reduce the prison population, making punishment fair and proportionate. It looked at prison as an option and not a solution and sought other methods of punishments such as punishment in the community, which helped keep prison numbers from rising. Within a year this was abandoned, from 1993-1997 John Major’s conservative government pushed the notion that ‘prison works’ and we entered a phase named ‘the new punitiveness’ The new labour government of Tony Blair 1997-2007 continued this view on punishment and implemented the campaign ‘tough on crime tough on the causes of crime’ implementing a mixture of policies which punished and rehabilitated. Under new labour the prison population reached an unprecedented high and continued to rise under the coalition government in 2010 despite the justice secretary Kenneth Clarke attempting to steer away from penal policy and to aim to rehabilitate in a less punitive approach this did slow the increase in population during 2010 -2011. However the population spiked dramatically during August 2011 connected with the urban riots, this saw a peak in the prison population to 88,159. The penal system are struggling with the current numbers if they are to continue to rise as predicted it will cause a great problem and overcrowding will be a serious issue if drastic steps aren’t taken to reduce these numbers
During June 2012 prisons in England and Wales...

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