Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright has defended the Government's Transforming Rehabilitation reforms following a report that casts doubt on the Prison Service's present capacity to accommodate them.
The Minister said the reforms are "ambitious and I make absolutely no apology for that. I want rehabilitation at the heart of what prisons do so we can reduce re-offending and better protect the public."
An inspection report of prisons in England and Wales has called for a "fundamental review" into offender management.
In a joint statement, Liz Calderbank, chief inspector of probation, and Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said they had come to the "reluctant conclusion" that offender management model isn't working.
It is more complex than many prisoners need and more costly to run than most prisons can afford.
Given the Prison Service's present capacity and the pressures now facing it with the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation and an extension of 'through the gate' services, we doubt whether it can deliver future National Offender Management Service (NOMS) expectations.
We therefore believe that the current position is no longer sustainable and should be subject to fundamental review.
Work done in prisons to cut re-offending is not working, an inspection report has found.
Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, and Liz Calderbank, chief inspector of probation, warned prisons in England and Wales are unlikely to deliver future expectations and the current measures are therefore unsustainable.
The report also found that when it comes to offender management measures the majority of prison staff do not understand what is required.
The report comes as the Government rolls out its Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, including plans for a nationwide "through the prison gate" resettlement service, which would see most offenders given continuous support by one provider from custody into the community.
New state-of-the-art prisons being built in England and Wales will have telephones, showers and toilets inside each cell, along with some that feature screen terminals for inmates to order meals and book activities, a National Audit Office report revealed today.
"Most importantly, in new buildings all cells have integrated screened toilets and over 90 per cent have integrated showers," the report said.
"Some new cells contain telephones (the use of which is controlled and may be monitored by prison staff) and, at HMP Thameside, terminals to book activities and order meals.
"In-cell telephones, as well as allowing prisoners to maintain family contact (important for successful rehabilitation), also contribute to prisoner safety," the report added.
Ministers have decided to keep three South Yorkshire prisons under public-sector management amid an investigation into private firm Serco which was the preferred bidder to run them, the Ministry of Justice said today.
Movies with a certificate 18 rating have been banned from jails in England and Wales as part of a clampdown on perks behind bars brought into force today.
Prisoners are to be banned from watching violent and sexually explicit films, such as Hostel and Reservoir Dogs, under changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme.
The Prison Reform Trust said the pressure of budget cuts and economies of scale have led the Government to the creation of "super prisons".
Director Juliet Lyons said:
Prisons cannot, and should not, continue to pick up the tab for a range of social and health needs.
A more effective and far-sighted use of taxpayers' money would see addicts receiving treatment in the community, or in residential centres, and people who are mentally ill, or those with learning disabilities, getting the health and social care they need to lead responsible lives in their communities.
Nearly half the prisoners in England and Wales could be held in 1,000-plus super-sized jails under Government plans to transform the prison estate, campaigners have said.
Around 38,000 prisoners will ultimately be held in 30 so-called "super prisons" based on current trends, according to the Prisons Reform Trust.
The charity has warned that larger and cheaper-to-run jails come "at the expense of prisoners' safety and rehabilitation".
Economist Vicky Pryce, who spent two months in prison earlier this year, has said that women behind bars have "special needs".
She said it was not a case of making prison "softer" for female offenders, but of minimising the wider impact and costs on society.
Pryce was sentenced to eight months in prison in March for perverting the course of justice by taking speeding points for her former husband Chris Huhne in 2003.
Labour's shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan has described the government's prison reforms as "tinkering around the edges" of the problem.
Khan told Daybreak that it should be investing in more women's treatment centres and more smaller prisons. He said in an earlier statement: "With only a small number of scattered women’s prisons, the concept of local resettlement is almost meaningless."