Friday, 3 May 2013


I don't get it?  Why does the Government think a prisoner using the gym is a “privilege”?  What message does that send?  Encouraging everyone to keep healthy, do exercise and keep fit is essential if we are to tackle growing problems of heart disease or diabetes.  We need everyone, and that includes prisoners, to use gyms. The idea this is a "privilege", as the Government have announced this week, sends mixed messages and surely was not agreed with the DH.

There are many other problems with this change in policy. We know there is a revolving door in prisons. Prisons do far too little to encourage rehabilitation and the Government send mixed messages by measures that tend to suggest (as the more rabid newspapers trumpet) prison is solely about punishment.
Structured programmes of work, exercise, training and the like are rare and becoming rarer as the prison population has grown, as Frances Crook of that excellent organisation, the Howard League for Penal Reform points out “The fact that the prison population has doubled in the past 20 years has left prisons overcrowded and overstretched ".

 “There have been numerous inspectorate reports published recently which have found prisons struggling to offer any purposeful activity within their walls ". 

If we are to have a rehabilitation revolution then this is not simply about what we do with ex offenders. Rehabilitation has to start in the prison. It isn't. These changes will harm, not encourage change.

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