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UK SOLUTIONS- just lock everyone up.

Posted by lahar9jhadav on June 29, 2008

jack straw prison warden

UK authorities plan to build three new super prisons, or ‘Titans’, to cope with an overcrowding crisis in Britain’s jails.

The country’s prison population has doubled since 1993 to more than 81,000.

More than 5,000 new prison places are to be created over the next seven years, but critics say the short-term outlook is dire and the nation could be short 3,000 places by the middle of net year.

Former inmate Leonard Morris says the prisons are bursting.

“They say it’s overcrowded but they just keep piling them in,” he said. “It’s like two get released, two come in.”

Building Titans

This week the British Government published a major review of prison overcrowding including a $2.8 billion fix.

Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw says building the super prisons will allow inefficient jails to be closed down.

“We will act on Lord Carter’s recommendation to build up to three large Titan prisons, housing around 2,500 prisoners each,” he said.

“This extra capacity will help to modernise the prison estate, close some of the older, inefficient prisons on a new-for-old basis.”

Titans have more in common with prison warehouses in the United States than with Britain’s existing jails.

They will be far bigger than anything built so far in Britain, but they have few fans.

Lord Ramsbottom, a former inspector of prisons, says he hates the thought of the massive institutions.

“I hope we will not have Titans,” he said. “They seem to be completely the reversal of what everyone is talking about, [which] is getting the prisoner, the offender down near to the community from which they come, so the community can be involved in their rehabilitation.”

System under pressure

Britain has the highest prison population in western Europe. For every 100,000 people, 148 are in jail – compared with 125 in Australia and 750 in the United States.

Andrew Coyle, professor of prison studies at London’s King’s College, says changes to sentencing are putting pressure on the prison system.

“What is happening is that people who previously would not have been sentenced to prison are now being sentenced to prison,” he said.

“Also those who are being sentenced are going for much longer periods of time.”

But there are also more inmates from the margins of society.

Recently, a paranoid schizophrenic was jailed for manslaughter after killing a bus passenger who had asked the man to stop throwing hot chips at his girlfriend.

“In a particular year, something like 3,500 first-time shoplifters and people who stole bicycles were being sent to prison,” Professor Coyle said.

“They’re primarily people who are mentally ill, who are drug addicts or who are at the margins of society.”

Prison ships

Ten years ago, Britain bought a prison ship from the US to cope with overcrowded cells.

It was sold last year, but now the Government is said to be in the market for another floating jail.

“I gather officials are now scouring the seas to find a prison ship, but these, I think, are simply nibbling at the edges of what the main problem is,” he said.

“The main problem is who are we sending to prison and why are they there, and what do we hope to achieve by that?”

On that question, the jury is still out.

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