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All you need to know about prison

Here you can find over 250 posts tracking every major development in our prisons since 2011. You can read prison safety statistics, find out about prison reform plans and (often lack of progress), positive developments and abject failures. If you’re looking for something in particular, try the search box below:

Prisoners tend to view law solely as an instrument of punishment

Christoper McDonald, a former IPP prisoner , provided the audience with insight into the reality of life on the inside, far away from the court room. ‘For about two years I stayed in a cell that was no longer than my arm span, with two to three other people in a cell,’ he explained. ‘Later on in my sentence I was represented by Lubia [Begum-Rob, joint managing solicitor at PAS], who told me I do have rights, and we could start to challenge some of the decisions. More needs to be done to inform prisoners of what they are entitled to,’ he said.

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Coaching behind bars

The prison takes away many choices and coaching give some fundamental ones back, along with hope. Not the blind hope that the whole world will miraculously change, but that they can change themselves and parts of the world around them. Some explicitly choose to become survivors not victims.

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Substance misuse and mental health in prison

Bradley found that mental health and substance misuse services in prisons did not work well together and that this situation did not improve in the five years between his two reports. RAPt’s experience is that only the minority of inmates with acute mental health problems currently receive treatment in prison, with the majority having to cope with their problems in a hostile prison environment without dedicated support.

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Reducing smoking in prison

The PHE report summarises our understanding of smoking in prison. On the one hand, limited access to tobacco can reduce how much and how often prisoners smoke as can the cost of tobacco for those surviving on a prison income.

Conversely, smoking is often seen as a coping strategy to manage the stress of imprisonment and helps to alleviate boredom. Not smoking in a culture where a large majority of people smoke can also be socially isolating. And, of course “Burn” remains one of the principal prison currencies.

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If Alex Cavendish were Justice Secretary

At the moment our prisons are a ticking time bomb that could explode into violence without warning. Frontline staff shortages and overcrowding are contributing to this explosive and toxic environment. If I were Secretary of State for Justice my first priority would be to ensure that no prison in England and Wales has less staff than it needs to operate a safe, normal regime.

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Disappointing outcomes for Peterborough and Doncaster prison PbR pilots

These are very disappointing results for the MoJ. Normally, there would be an expectation of a high level of performance from pilots with such public exposure where the partners had chosen to participate and, indeed, had championed and driven the initiative from the outset. Therefore, it is an extremely worrying sign for the new private providers of probation whose revenue will be, to an increasing extent, dependent on reducing reoffending rates, that these high-profile pilots are performing so poorly.

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The Prisoners’ Education Trust justice priorities

If we all want people to leave prison and make a positive contribution to society, why not enable them to start during their sentence? I would make it a priority to ensure prison staff work together with prisoners to improve rehabilitation by giving them more responsibility, using their talents and encouraging them to help others with roles such as peer mentors, student council representatives and learning champions.

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Drugs in Prison

Although it is obvious that the main reason that such large quantities of drugs get into prison is to feed the demand of the many dependent drug users inside, it has long been a significant concern that as many as one in five heroin users took the drug for the first time in custody.

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Justice Committee highly critical of penal policy

The Committee highlights under-resourcing again and says that unless staffing shortages are addressed and the backlog of risk assessments cleared, the new probation providers will be hampered “considerably” in their efforts to provide a better through-the-gate service and reduce reoffending.

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Which countries imprison the most people?

As you can see, Britain (this chart averages rates for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) imprisons substantially more people (147 per 100,000) than the OECD norm of 115. I have to confess to being surprised that New Zealand is such a punitive society.

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Who’s taking drugs into prison?

Cuts in public expenditure have resulted in very well-publicised shortages of prison staff. It may well be that these figures fall in 2014/15 , not because there are less drugs getting into our prisons, but because there are less prison staff to detect them.

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28% released prisoners have benefits removed

Disappointingly, and somewhat bizarrely, the evaluation was not able to provide information on the core outcome of whether released prisoners were helped to find work by the Work Programme, apparently because the DWP did not require providers to provide separate statistics for this group.

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A bespoke service

We understand that each client has differing needs and concerns. We can assist and discuss with you in advance the likely difficulties and challenges you will face in prison including, Sentence Mitigation Reports, categorisation, disciplinary proceedings, prison transfers, Release on Temporary Licence through to eventual release and living on licence in the community.

First time in Prison?

Steve Dagworthy, founder of Prison Consultants Limited, talks about prison life.

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