The government has released a new plan titled “The Prisons Strategy White Paper,” with the goal of providing a prison construction programme that will allow for the reform and rehabilitation of offenders. Modern jails, it appears, will reduce reoffending and safeguard the public by giving offenders with opportunities for education, skill development, and addiction treatment while they are inside.
The ten-year vision for the prison system concentrates on:
- building a new generation of prisons
- prison and probation services to work together to cut crime and protect the public
- a safe and secure prison estate with zero tolerance to drugs, weapons and contraband.
The key measures to be introduced will include:
- zero tolerance to drugs;
- treating addictions;
- prisoners obtaining basic standards of numeracy and literacy;
- work opportunities;
- resettlement passports;
- fast-tracked punishments.
Six new prisons will be erected over the next five years, with an additional £550 million set aside to “decrease reoffending” and £3.75 billion set aside to establish 20,000 more jail spaces, according to the government. The jails will be built for safety, security, and stability, with increased use of digital, data, and technology. This will incorporate in-cell technology, allowing inmates to learn while still in their cells.
The zero-tolerance policy will be enforced in the areas of drugs, weapons, and contraband, with body scanners and airport-style security. The equipment will be used to keep narcotics, guns, and cell phones out of the prisons. Enhanced gate security, X-ray body scanners, and biometric visitor identification will be installed in all new jails.
Prior to their release, inmates will be assessed for drugs and mental health. There will be a wide range of treatments available, including abstinence-based techniques. There will be a trauma-responsive offer for female inmates, with special care for pregnant inmates.
A new Prisoner Education Service will be established to ensure that inmates may improve their basic numeracy and reading abilities. There will also be possibilities for convicts to earn occupational certificates, making them more employable once they are released. Other skills, such as driving theory examinations, will be provided as opportunities for future work. There will be opportunities for one-on-one and group education, as well as spaces for association, work, and visitor centres. With the opportunity to treat substance misuse, peer support and therapeutic activity will be offered. IT will be installed in cells to make access to resources easier.
To protect vulnerable inmates, ligature-resistant cells will be purchased, and personnel will be equipped with body-worn video cameras where necessary. A task force for innovation will be formed to investigate the best therapies for aggressive or self-harming prisoners.
Governors will be held accountable for the possibilities for work-related activities provided to inmates as well as the achievements achieved. There will be a presumption that vetted and eligible prisoners will be released on licences to work both within and outside the institution.
The resettlement passports will include all of the necessary documents a prisoner may need upon their release, including identification, a CV, and a bank account.
Fast track adjudications will prioritise rapid penalties for minor infractions, while a referral agreement will ensure that significant offences result in prosecutions. On the other hand, incentive programmes will be designed to encourage positive behaviour.
An additional 5,000 prison officers will be hired, with existing employees receiving proper training, supervision, and qualifications. With future prison governors hired through a fast-track plan, a retention structure will be implemented, and professional skills will be reinforced.
For prison performance, the government will publish key performance indicators, targets, and league tables. The best-performing governors will be allowed more freedom to innovate for their prisons, but they will still be judged on achievements that are aligned with government aims.
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