Socialist Worker

Prison offers no solutions - whether run privately or run by the state

Issue No. 2618

Birmingham prison has been taken back under state control - but jail is still not the answer to societys problems

Birmingham prison has been taken back under state control - but jail is still not the answer to society's problems

The chief inspector of prisons has forced ministers into taking Birmingham jail back under state control.

He said this week it had descended into a “state of crisis” with “appalling violence and squalor”.

The jail was run by outsourcer G4S. G4S’s prisons, immigration detention centres and youth custody services in Britain made £31 million profit last year.

The G4S boss in charge of the sector, Peter Neden, took home £727,000. In contrast inmates who rioted against Birmingham jail’s appalling conditions in 2016 were given sentences of up to nine years for mutiny.

There are 82,949 people in 107 state-run jails and 14 that are run privately. While privatisation makes thing worse, conditions are appalling in all of them.

And it is the inmates who are at risk.

Half of prisoners overall say they feel unsafe. In inner city prisons that rises to around 70 percent. Some 76 of the 117 prisons in England and Wales are officially overcrowded

There were 291 deaths in male prisons last year. Levels of self-harm rose 11 percent to 44,651.

The privatising vultures make prison worse but prison does not work. Locking people up in dungeons of despair doesn’t rehabilitate anyone. It institutionalises violence.

And it’s no solution to the cruel and unequal society that drives people to crime.

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