Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke has today started his reform of the prison system. He has announced the closure of 3 prisons, angering right wing Tories and others who are frightened to death of being accused of ‘going soft on crime’.
Ashwell prison in Rutland together with Lancaster Castle in Lancashire will close completely and Morton Hall women’s jail in Lincolnshire will become an “immigration removal centre”.
Just under 900 prison places will be lost but according to Clarke this is not a problem. TheOpinionSite.org can explain this statement, though no other news source seems to have bothered to comprehensively do so.
It is nothing unusual that has caused this drop in prisoner numbers. The increase in prisoners that occurs every Christmas is over, January always sees a drop in numbers anyway and crime levels traditionally fall in the first 2 months of the year.
Clarke has also forced probation officers to recall less people to prison unless it is absolutely necessary and the recall can be justified with evidence; a move that has upset the Probation Service as few things can.
As of last weekend therefore, the jail population in England and Wales was 82,991, almost 5,000 places below capacity.
Mr Clarke said: “The decision to close any prison is a difficult one but one that we have had to make. Closing outdated and expensive prisons is an important step in our strategy to provide a secure and modern, fit-for-purpose prison estate, while improving efficiency and value for the taxpayer.
“The changes will reduce our current capacity by 849 places and I am confident that they can be safely managed within existing headroom, whilst maintaining our ability to cope with any increase in population.
“Security remains our highest priority and we will ensure that this, along with efficiency and current performance levels, is maintained across the estate.”
He added: “Decisions on the future size of the prison estate will be driven by population demand and prisons will only close when capacity allows.
“We will always ensure that there are sufficient places for those offenders sentenced to custody by the courts, including a margin to manage fluctuations in the prison population. Decisions to close future capacity will only be taken if they do not put this ability at risk.”
Predictably, not everyone is happy about Mr Clarke’s decision.
In fact, Tory right wingers like Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley are very angry indeed, though TheOpinionSite.org suspects his motives are somewhat self-centred and have more to do with maintaining the ‘tough on crime‘ image so beloved by those Conservative and other MPs who are intellectually and morally incapable of looking beyond the ballot box – and their still very generous expenses allowance.
Philip Davies thinks we should build more prisons; not because there are more dangerous criminals about but because “we promised that more people would go to jail”.
So there you have it; a clear definition of Conservative Penal Policy. It doesn’t matter whether or not people deserve to go to jail as long as more people actually end up behind bars.
Davies however is not alone in what many may believe is his rather unintelligent and dishonest view of prison policy.
New girl, Labour MP Luciana Berger – always anxious to get herself noticed and described off the record by one MP as being a “nasty, self-seeking, callous little bitch” – also thinks more people should be in jail. What is more, she too is only interested in herself and in playing to the moronic, tabloid reading masses who feel that everyone else should suffer for their own misfortune.
Take the comments on the prison closures left by readers on the website of the Sun newspaper; a publication that knows a great deal about manipulating people’s opinions, hacking into private phones and setting up illegal ‘sting’ operations, all supposedly in the name of ‘public interest’. Some of the comments read as follows:
*A PRISON OFFICER SAID TO KEN CLARKE; “DO YOU KNOW, I COULD HAVE SWORE I SAW YOUR NAME ON A LOAF OF BREAD TODAY, BUT WHEN I LOOKED AGAIN IT SAID; “THICK CUT.”
*Put more in a cell, most cat A are single cell occupuncy
*Criminals it appears have more value to the goverment than us…The government dismisses the vast majority of the country’s citizens, in preference of not upsetting criminals by giving them cramped living space!!! What a mess…another promise bites the dust as no prison ships on the horizon. IThere are loads of people who are fuming about this, force a new general election now.The Sun could start the ball rolling in demanding a General Election this year, I will sign a pettition, hand out leaftlets and walk round with a mega-phone advising every1 to vote. I say walk, because I can’t afford to put fuel in my car to drive round!!!!!
*Cameron stated just before the Election,”we intend to get tough on criminals”….when is it likely to start?,just before the next Election probably…two faced prat.
*heres a thought, instead of having known paedos in private wings, turn it all into General population. Instead of giving them comfy surroundings, make prison a deterrant not an alternative lifestyle choice.
*Ken Clarke seems to want murderers back on the streets killing people willy nilly,as long as they’re not living anywhere near him….disgusting excuse for a human being,sack the ultra liberal Tory fossil now.
Spelling mistakes apart, these are truly the moronic and intellectually challenged views of ‘the British people’ as defined by the Sun newspaper; the same people to which Davies, Berger, John Mann and other sycophantic MPs are drawn.
It is a great pity that they and other like minded MPs do not take the trouble to read the small print in Clarke’s statement. If they did, they would discover that their fears are groundless and that far from being a ‘liberal’, Clarke is merely speaking common sense.
Officials from the Prisoner Officers Association have been slow to comment on the closures, which is a pity as we would have liked to have included them – but regrettably, history shows that they are usually slow in most things to do with positive change.
TheOpinionSite.org agrees with Ken Clarke that, given most prisoners are eventually released, even nearly all serious offenders, it is a pointless exercise sending people to prison if you are not going to help them to reform.
That is where the money needs to go; along with other measures such as putting an end to the excessive power of the Probation Service and the Police who, instead of looking for any excuse to put people back inside should be looking for new ways to help offenders to successfully rejoin society, get a job, pay their taxes and contribute positively to the community as a whole.
This week, we have seen two MPs convicted and one sent to jail. Maybe Philip Davies, Luciana Berger, John Mann and other right wing MPs should also go inside for a while. After such an experience, they may feel more inclined to support positive action on prisons rather than seek to creep to the Sun and its somewhat biased readership.