Socialist Worker

More prisons won't help stop crime

Issue No. 2667

Prison conditions cause mental distress

Prison conditions cause mental distress

Boris Johnson said his billion pound boost for prisons would stop them becoming “factories for making bad people worse”.

The Tories promised a £100 million boost for prison security in England and Wales on Tuesday. This came after an announcement of £2.5 billion for 10,000 more prison places last weekend.

Britain already has the highest prison population in the European Union with almost 90,000 inmates. And the crime clampdown will make an overcrowding crisis worse.

A recent report by the Prison Reform Trust found that 62 percent of prisons in England and Wales are overcrowded. The trust points out, “We know the aggressive rhetoric of ‘prison works’ invariably drives up the use of imprisonment.

“According to the prison service’s own figures it would take 9,000 new spaces just to eliminate overcrowding.” This overcrowding leads to desperate conditions inside. In 2018 prison deaths rose to 325—up 10 percent from the previous year.

And self-harm rose by 23 percent, hitting a record high in September 2018.

Many people in prison should be in hospital having treatment for mental distress. And many inmates are inside because of non-violent offences.

Locking people up in factories of violence doesn’t stop crime and it certainly doesn’t rehabilitate anyone.

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