Safely Behind Bars?

An inspection carried out between 2011 and 2012 concluded that 82% of prison institutions were ‘good’ or ‘reasonably good’. The most recent survey, from 2014 to 2015, proved that the percentage of ‘good’ prisons now stands at 42%.

The inspector referred to this as a “rapid deterioration”.

This is due to a number of factors, including population issues and limited staff. There is also a significant rise in self-inflicted deaths, which was in many cases a result of bullying in adult-male prisons. Surely a group of men under constant surveillance should feel protected against issues such as this? Andrew Selous, the Conservative Prisons Minister, assured that “we have always had enough staff to deliver decent and safe prison regimes,” and this will continue to be the top priority.

Prison inmates should continue to receive a reliable degree of care and protection, and it seems terrifying that these men feel vulnerable when they should be kept safe from themselves and their peers. Labour shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan supports this view, arguing that this shocking report proves how Conservative ministers are “burying their heads in the sand.” It remains possible that unreformed prisoners may slide back into their unruly ways and threaten their communities once again after serving their sentence, if they are not guided correctly in the prison environment.

Even the most brutal criminals must learn from their mistakes and thus feel secure in their surroundings to do so. A large percentage of inmates are likely to be empowered by their sentence and determined to live according to the law when they leave, therefore they should be allowed to reflect and reform themselves without fear of abuse.