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To build or not to build the ongoing titan prison saga

When the crime rate is falling and the prison population is falling month by month, why has the titan prison building programme re-emerged. Yes it will bring much-needed jobs into an area, but are these prisons really necessary or is a punitive game that the Government is playing. Lets knock down an old one and build a bigger better one!

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The idea that big is beautiful with prisons is wrong. Not our words, but those of David Cameron before he became Prime Minister.

If prison is so ineffective when looking at re-offending statistics, then why build more? There are alternatives to prison so why not use this money to invest in methods that give more positive results?

According to Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust ” There is scope to close some outdated prisons and reinvest the money saved into effective community solutions to crime,”

Do prisons help to break the cycle of re-offending?

On Monday, 17 June 2013 a report was published by the Policy Exchange entitled “Future Prisons: A radical plan to reform the prison estate”

The report recommended:

  • Closing more than 30 run down and dilapidated prisons and constructing 10-12 state of the art Hub Prisons.
  • Locating the prisons on brownfield sites near to main transport routes and to hold more prisoners as close to home as possible.
  • Constructing the prisons using cutting-edge architecture, with technologies such as biometric security systems. Halfway houses would be located inside the prison estate and the sites would include courts to cut the cost of transferring prisoners for trial.
  • Allowing private providers to compete on a level playing field with the public sector to manage and run the new establishments.

This is reminiscent of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon, could Foucault’s comment be translated to the idea of a “Hub” prison, would they be seen as a “mechanism of power”. We will have to wait and see!