Britain's prison system is a disgrace. With more than 95,000 people in prison, Britain has the largest prison population in Europe. This is the consequence of decades of inequality brought about by lack of proper attention by successive governments to the education, needs and aspirations of our fellow citizens. Reforms need to be introduced to:
a) Significantly reduce the number of crimes attracting a custodial sentence.
b) Establish Corrective Training Establishments (CTEs) which will offer an alternative to prison for young offenders (25 and under). Each region should have at least one CTE which will offer a disciplined and progressive training regime for periods of between three and six months. The regime should include physical training, skills and leadership training and confidence building. Strong emphasis will be placed on providing educational opportunities, including literacy and numeracy training. On release there should be post CTE rehabilitation which will monitor and support individuals and help them reintegrate into their community.
c) Build a new generation of prisons. To keep prisoners locked up for up to 23 hours a day is unacceptable, particularly when they are young offenders. Prisoners should be occupied every day. Skills training and education should have top priority, but every prison should also have an NHS support facility in which prisoners work to support local hospitals in catering, laundry, equipment manufacture and refurbishment. Vulnerable prisoners and prisoners with mental problems should have separate facilities where they can be properly cared for.
d) Release centres should be introduced. Every prisoner should spend three months in a release centre to prepare them for release. This should include finding post-release accommodation and employment.
e) Make sure all prisons have the right number of staff and significantly improve the level of staff training and support.
All prisoners should have the right to vote.