Shake-up for SW prisons

Seven jails in the South West could be turned into 'settlement' prisons, and would see the majority of offenders released from prisons in, or close to, the area in which they live, under plans announced by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

SW prisons in shake-up

Seven jails in the South West are included in proposals to become 'resettlement prisons'.

The plans, which are being revealed by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling on Thursday, will see the majority of offenders released from prisons in, or close to, the area in which they live.

  • Bristol
  • Leyhill in Gloucestershire
  • Exeter
  • Channings Wood in Newton Abbot
  • Guys Marsh in Dorset
  • Portland
  • Dorchester

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Prisons shake-up plans are 'political'

While the Ministry of Justice focus on rehabilitation is welcome, today's announcement reflects the fact that these reforms are designed to meet political and ideological goals - not to improve public safety or deliver better value for the taxpayer.

The Government's efforts to ensure the vast majority of prisoners are released into their local area seem rooted in good intentions.

But attempting to shoehorn overcrowded jails into arbitrarily-drawn and oversized contract areas, simply to ease the privatisation process, will create serious problems unless we reduce the number of people our prisons are holding."

– ANDREW NEILSON, DIRECTOR OF CAMPAIGNS, HOWARD LEAGUE FOR PENAL REFORM

Prisons shake-up: Prison Reform Trust

Resettlement and rehabilitation do matter but until and unless you reserve prison for serious and violent offenders, you cannot hope to cut sky-high re-offending rates or maintain safe and decent regimes.

Given the pace and scale of change, ministers focused on developing the justice market could easily lose sight of the solutions that lie outside of prison bars in health, housing and employment."

– JULIET LYON, DIRECTOR OF THE PRISON REFORM TRUST

Idea of 'resettlement' prisons is a good one: Labour

The idea of resettlement prisons is a good one - prisoners being integrated back into communities where they have family and friends could lead to reduced re-offending and fewer victims of crime.

However, this is another example of reality being very different from rhetoric.

These plans amounts to a substantial reorganisation of our prisons system, and it's not clear how it will be funded.

Labour has consistently said that extending support for prisoners on sentences of less than 12 months is to be welcomed in theory.

But, in practice, it is another uncosted proposal from Chris Grayling.

An additional 50,000 offenders requiring support for skills, drug and alcohol dependency, behavioural problems, housing and jobs does not come out of fresh air.

– SADIQ KHAN MP, SHADOW JUSTICE SECRETARY

Prisons shake-up: Justice Secretary

Rehabilitation in the community must begin behind the prison walls and follow offenders out through the gates if we are to stand a chance of freeing them from a life of crime.

Currently a local area could expect to receive offenders from dozens of prisons across the country - this is hopeless.

It is little wonder we have such high reoffending rates when you have a prisoner leaving HMP Liverpool, given a travel permit to get them home to the south coast, and then expected to simply get on with it.

This approach is a significant step forwards in our reforms to tackle reoffending and lays the groundwork for building a genuine nationwide network of 'through the gate' supervision and support for all offenders."

– Chris Grayling MP, Justice Secretary.

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Shake up for the West's prisons

HMP Bristol. Credit: Barry Batchelor Wire/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Justice Secretary has unveiled plans for a shake-up of the prison estate.

70 'resettlement' prisons in England in Wales, including the West of England, will see the majority of offenders released from prisons in, or close to, the area in which they will live.

A trial will start in the North West of England in the Autumn.