November 19, 2015

Can Gove turn around our failing prisons?

Can Gove turn around our failing prisons?

It’s time for Michael Gove to act on his pledge to end the idleness and futility of prison life, writes Ben Rochelle. 
Since the general election there has been much discussion around the dismal state of UK prisons and anxieties about how best to rehabilitate prisoners. Justice Secretary Michael Gove has called for an end to the “idleness and futility” of prison life. It is time to put this into action. The common route to prison is well understood. In 2002 Oliver Letwin wrote about a “conveyor belt to crime,” noting that family breakdown, a violent home, living in an environment where crime is a normalised activity and abuse and addiction all make crime harder to avoid. The data backs this up – today a quarter of all prisoners in the UK were taken into care as children, two-fifths witnessed domestic violence as children and 60% regularly played truant at school. Gove may not be in a position to get to the root of this but he is a in a position to ensure that the belief of redemption – that people have the ability to change and better themselves – is central to our prison system.In order to do this some of our prisons must be knocked down and redesigned so that they become not just places for housing convicts but also centres that offer advice, guidance and learning programmes. Cramped buildings where inmates need to be locked up at times when they could be learning crucial life skills are not up to scratch.Last week Gove vowed to close down “ageing and ineffective” Victorian jails and sell of their sites to fund new buildings to replace them. He has referred to Pentonville prison as the “most dramatic example of failure within the prison estate” pointing to a Chief Inspector’s report which said that the jail, which opened in 1842, should hold 900 prisoners, but now houses 1,300. According to the report the prison has bloodstained walls, piles of rubbish and food waste, increasing levels of violence and widespread drug taking. Although the question of how much these new prisons will take to build still remains uncertain this initiative must be welcomed.
But the key to this sort of transformation is education. Prisons, like schools, must be “engines of social responsibility”. About half of prisoners have no qualifications, compared to 15% of the working-age population and about half (presumably the same half) are functionally illiterate. Few prisoners have internet access. Without basic skills and qualifications it is easy to see why we still have a woefully high rate of re-offending (around 45%).
Many prisoners are desperate to engage in education programmes and recognise that this is a major route to bettering themselves and one day becoming employable bringing positive contributions to society. Gove must ensure that prisoners have the right incentives to learn and prison staff make education a firm priority. In addition to this governors need to be given the right tools to be more demanding and creative about the education provided in the prisons they run.
Just as Iain Duncan Smith reformed the Conservative approach to welfare reform by making clear that fiscal good sense can go hand in hand with social responsibility and compassion Gove has the chance to show that keeping the public safe and punishing people for crimes they have committed can go hand in hand with compassionate rehabilitation.
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  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see https://mises.org/blog/goal-socialists-socialism-—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. https://mishtalk.com/2017/03/29/bad-brexit-deal-better-than-no-deal-mathematical-idiocy-odds-of-no-deal/ and https://www.worldheadlines.info/2017/03/after-brexit-9-reasons-to-be-bullish-on-great-britain/

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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