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Prisons are merely ‘warehousing’ offenders, says peer

Lord Brown says ‘warehousing’ has replaced rehabilitation in the prison estate, saying our jails are ‘truly in crisis’

The UK is simply “warehousing” offenders in prisons without preparing them for a life beyond crime

That’s the stark judgement of one of the country’s former Supreme Court justices, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood. The crossbench peer said overcrowding has left the nation’s prison estate “truly in crisis.”

Lord Brown said the government need to look again at sentencing policy to reduce the numbers and types of offenders sent to jail.

“The percentage of our population serving prison sentences is almost twice that in Germany, let alone Scandinavia, and very substantially higher than in most of the developed world,” he said. “Our standard sentences are routinely substantially longer.”

It is small wonder that prison riots and disturbances are no longer a rarity

Lord Brown said many prisons suffered from lack of workshops, educational facilities and the preparation needed for their release to stop the cycle of reoffending.

“In short, warehousing has largely replaced rehabilitation,” he said. “It is small wonder that prison riots and disturbances are no longer a rarity; prisons are dangerous places.”

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Lord John Bird, The Big Issue’s founder is a keen supporter of prison reform and has long spoken of the problem of “warehousing” the poorest in society.

Bird wants government to focus on a prevention agenda, tackling poverty at its root to help stop social problems reoccurring over and over again. He has proposed a prevention unit in Whitehall working across health, education, social services, police and prisons.

In his latest online column, Bird said: “If we want to reduce the prison population, we have to stop producing the people who make up the population.”

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