Last month the Prime Minister announced that he and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice, will be reforming the prisons.
Over the past few decades the prison system has been deteriorating rapidly. Custodial estates are overcrowded, short-staffed and underfunded. A typical day for a person in prison is spent confined to their cell meaning no access to resources that would help them educate themselves or develop their skills so that they can contribute positively to society upon their release.
The government is proposing to open six ‘reform’ prisons in which the governors will have complete autonomy. Other aspects of these reforms include: not having to declare convictions on your CV, releasing people in prison before the end of their sentence and tracking them via satellite tracking, and financial incentives for staff. One of the things Michael Gove stressed was increasing the amount of meaningful activities that prisoners do (like baking!)
Hopefully these reforms will help attitudes towards people in prison change. It is important to realise that everyone has the potential to contribute to society and that rehabilitation is a much more effective use of resources! Only time will tell how effective these reforms will be but at the very least it is significant that the government has recognised that the system we have in place currently is not working.