Please No More Prisons – UK True Crime


My view on prison is pretty simple. The prison system is broken and we need to stop sending so many people there. Only when we accept this is the right way to go forward can we start to really reduce crime as we can then focus our time and resources much more on the causes of crime. 

Sure, people who are a danger to your family or mine must go to prison and if they cannot be rehabilitated they must stay there. But we must stop talking about building more jails due to current levels of overcrowding and now is the time to make the change.

The Reality of Prison

Imagine the reality of you going to prison.

With no contacts inside and not being a member of a gang, prison would be a terrifying and scary place, despite the efforts of the staff. 

And as for Young Offenders Institutions – I have written about these hellish places before – why we continue to send so many of our children to prison before exploring every other option is hard to fathom. I am moved to tears every time I read of yet another suicide of a young person unable to cope in this environment. All those young, troubled lives wasted.

Prison Doesn’t Work

Whenever I express this view on our current approach to prisons in the UK – and I pipe up at a lot of my Facebook group posts and at live events –  there is always someone to tell me I am naïve, ill-informed or just plain wrong.

Maybe I am.

The ever-increasing numbers of academics operating in this area can quote infinite amounts of data backing up the view that this is the wrong thing to do. And on my podcast I cover weekly families destroyed by the most awful of crimes who expect the victim to go to prison for a very long time, 

But, here’s the thing; prison still isn’t working.

Violence & Mental Health

When we send people to prison, many struggle with the violence faced on a daily basis and their mental health. 

A prime example is the tragic case of Simone Burns, a human rights lawyer sent to prison for six months who took her own life days after her release.  Her crime was a terrible racist attack on an Air India flight. For this she was sent to prison for 6 months.

What was the point of prison for this offence? Why not make her work in the community for 3 years 9-5, 6 days a week, using her skills to help people and the wider community?

For me it makes absolutely no sense and there are so many examples of this type of sentence in, for example, careless driving cases where even when the driver is sent to prison the families describe the short sentence as an insult.

Of course, it is impossible for us to fully comprehend the pain this person has caused to families through their actions, but there are surely in so many cases there are better ways that the guilty person can be dealt with than prison?

The Howard League

The Howard League for Penal Reform say the following in their headline comments about why the UK prison system is broken:

  • The number of men, women and children sent to prison has more than doubled over the last two decades. Although most spend less than a year inside, this comes at a terrible cost to the taxpayer, society and communities. Re-offending on release creates ever more victims of crime;
  • While the prison population continues to grow, the money and resources available to manage that population growth is simply not there. More and more we see prisoners lying on their bunks with little positive to do. There are problems of prison suicides, rising violence and drug abuse behind bars;
  • Crime is often caused by drug or drink problems, by poor mental health, or through abuse and neglect at an early age. The public deserves a justice system that tackles these underlying causes of crime and invests in prevention.

Why no change?

Why is the solution proposed to the lack of space in prisons to simply build more prisons?

I appreciate that less prison means the solution to what we all want – less crime – is more complex. But the points above from the Howard League are hard to disagree with this, aren’t they? 

So why do we keep having the debate, agree that prison isn’t working and yet still keep sending so many people to prison?


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