What should be done about prison overcrowding?

This essay is going to look at the serious issue of prison overcrowding, possible solutions and what other people believe should be done - What should be done about prison overcrowding? introduction. In particular the views of Ann Widdecombe and Lord Woolf. Prison overcrowding has had a lot of media coverage over the last few months, grabbing headline stories such as “UK prisons now ‘over capacity'” or “Prison overcrowding at crisis point.” Recently the news claimed that 82, 068 people were in prison, 96 over the operational capacity. So now is the time when we have to look into what can be done about it?

The first source that I am going to look at is written by a conservative mp, Mrs. Widdecombe. In 1995 she became the State of home office and minister in charge Prisons, this role required her to visit every single prison in Britain. Whilst she was Minister in charge of prisons, she also had to deal with the issue of prison overcrowding. Therefore she has sufficient knowledge to make a sensible comment on the situation and suggest what she thinks suitable. She believes that the answer to prison overcrowding now is to build more prisons yet again “so my answer to prison overcrowding is more prison space, not deciding to send people there.”

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However this is biased for many reasons, Widdecombe is a conservative MP and it is generally conservatives view that people she be put in to prison and not rehabilitated. Also the fact that she was Minister in charge of prisons makes her statement very biased because she is reaffirming that what she did was the correct thing to do. Within her statement she says that its “down to the government” with there being a different government in power from conservatives by saying that what “she” did was right confirms that conservative’s views are right and more successful.

The second source is the opinion of Lord Woolf. Lord Woolf was Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 2000-2005. The constitutional reform act 2005 made him the first Lord Chief Justice to be President of the courts. He’s also a strong believer of restorative justice and a supporter of the YJB (Youth Justice Board.) He has one of the best ideas of the people who go into prison and the effects it has on them. It’s his believe that more should be done on the prevention of crime.

He said that he like to see a major shift away from punishment and a new approach to law and order. He suggests that there should be a shortlist of four crimes in which people could be arrested and place in prison, therefore reducing the amount of people in prison. He believes that restorative justice should be used in place of prisons as it makes better amendments to those effected and the YJB should be used much more than it is now. However this article is also biased because of the job he has done for most of his life. He has seen people in and out of prison and noticed either a change or no change at all in the people. Also he is a strong believer of the YJB so he is going to believe that they should be used in courts much more than someone who doesn’t agree with them.

There are many other points of view on this topic and lots of other ideas on how to solve prison overcrowding, some of these include:

* Prison Ships- Old cruise ships converted into prisons stops the cost of having to build new prisons.

* Super Prison- Super prisons are like normal prisons but are expected to hold at least 2,500 people each.

* More Community Service- This is more like restorative justice, its away for the convict to give something back.

* Build more prisons- This is more of a conservative view and would cost lots of money and would take up large amounts of landscape.

* Don’t send as many people to prison- This is easy to say in practice but if we were considering sending someone to prison, it implies there are a danger to the general public, otherwise there wouldn’t be a law there.

* Sentence people on the severity of their crime- Yet again this sounds very good on paper but would be harder to justify in a court, depending on peoples bias

As good as all those ideas may sound they would be difficult to put in to practice and would cost millions of pounds to build. All the suggestions would have different reactions by different people depending on their political, social upbringing.

I believe that we do need more prison places and enabling people to walk free because there aren’t enough places is not only ridiculous but unsafe to the general public. I believe that we should either create prison ships or build super prisons. I believe though whilst inside prison there should be some form of rehabilitation and education scheme, so that when the convict leaves prison they can have a job, so that they can pay back into tax the money they used whilst being in prison. Whilst I like the idea that people should be judged on the severity of their crime, I believe it would be impossible for the judge to give a fair and un-biased evaluation if the situation.

I think that prison overcrowding is an important topic because it can affect the genera; welfare and safety of the public. Also many people go to prison each day and lots of people know somebody in prison so it’s always useful to know if cells are overcrowded, if they are being treated fairly and equally. If there were less people on the streets who commit crime it would make our local community a nicer, safer and much more pleasant. I believe if people leave prison they will of learnt and gained two very important things. Don’t brake the law and also gained qualifications, so they can progress and slowly try and pay back their prison bills.

The two views are both very different, one believes in locking people up, because the law says to. The other implies that new laws need to be put into place, and much more money and time should be spent on crime prevention. I believe with parts of both I believe more prisons should be built but I also believe that people should be educated inside of prison, so they can pay something back to the community.

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