Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Prisoner total rises 15% in six years

England and Wales are continuing to jail offenders at a higher rate than any other major country in western Europe, it emerged today. New research indicates that the government's use of prison as its main tool of penal policy has increased by 15% since 1999.

Despite government attempts to reduce it, England and Wales have a prison population rate of 142 per 100,000, which remains higher than France, Germany, Italy and Greece.

There are 76,000 people in jails in England and Wales, and this does not include immigration detainees. Last week Amnesty International estimated that 25,000 asylum seekers were locked up last year in the UK.

There are around 1,300 prisoners in Northern Ireland and 6,700 in Scotland.

The analysis, by the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) suggests authorities around the world are sending their citizens to jail at an ever increasing rate.

As before, the United States, China and Russia are responsible for half the world's 9 million prisoners.

But whereas in Russia the prison population has fallen from more than 1 million in 1999 to 763,000 now, the total has risen in the US - by far the world's biggest jailer - from 1.86 million in 1999 to more than 2 million. There is also an upward trend in China where there are more than 1.5 million people in jail, a prison population rate of 118 per 100,000 of the population.

Rob Allen, director of the ICPS, said: "Given the high cost and disputed efficacy of imprisonment, the data should prompt policymakers in every country to consider what they can do to limit the size of their prison population. Excessive use of prison does nothing to improve public safety."

Geoff Dobson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "Does this country really want to be seen to imprison far more of our population than our neighbours, France and Germany, and does this help to make ours a safer society than theirs?"

The study, conducted at King's College London, shows a rise in the prison populations of 73% of those countries analysed. This applied to 64% of countries in Africa, 79% of those in the Americas, 83% in Asia, 69% in Europe and 69% in Oceania.

Of particular interest were Brazil, where the rise in the prison population was 70%, Japan, where the figure rose by 40%, and Mexico, where the increase was 37%.

The largest rise in Europe occurred in Holland, where the jail population has leapt over five years from 14,000 to 20,000, an increase of 42%. The authorities there have reacted to public calls for tougher sentences.

The changing situation in Russia is in part attributable to the work of Yuri Kalinin, the deputy minister of justice and former director general of the Russian prison service, who has made a big impact on the country's penal policy.

The biggest drop has been in the remand population. In 1996, it stood at 300,000 but that figure had fallen to 150,000 at the start of the year.

Roy Walmsley, honorary consultant to the United Nations and an ICPS associate, said: "We sought to draw attention to the huge world prison population and the vast differences in different parts of the world and in different countries. The question of how effective prisons are should be a matter of great public debate. It is to be hoped that countries with a high prison population will look at their neighbours, who imprison many fewer of their people and ask if their society is necessarily safer as a result."

Two months ago Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, called for "greater sense" in sentencing to improve public confidence and make the criminal justice system more effective. He said detention should be primarily reserved for the most serious offences, particularly violent and dangerous offenders.

But many politicians and some within the criminal justice system hold to the philosophy first espoused by Michael Howard, that "prison works"

Earlier this year Paul Kernaghan, chief constable of Hampshire, urged judges to send more offenders to prison for the protection of the public.

By Eric Allison and Hugh Muir posted 29 June 05

Not With Our Money

Today, millions of people living in the U.S. find themselves on the front lines of a deadly "war on crime" with no end in sight. Since 1970, the number of men and women behind bars grew by nearly 600% to a staggering two million. The bulk of the newly incarcerated are not serial killers or drug kingpins, but young people of color from urban neighborhoods who have been convicted of non-violent drug offenses, and increasingly, immigrants whose only crime is being undocumented.

Politicians tell us that prison expansion will help us "win" the war on crime, but research and the lived experience of victims, offenders, families and communities suggest that over-incarceration has actually weakened the social fabric of crime-ridden communities. Thirty years of "tough-on-crime" policies have left American more fearful, more alienated, and more racially divided, yet the U.S. government touts the "success" of American criminal justice around the world.

This section will provide you with general facts about the prison industrial complex, the private prison industry and the corporations that finance it, organizing efforts to abolish the industry once and for all, and resources to assist you in your activism.


CPS drops prosecution over death in custody
UK: The family of Roger Sylvester, who died after being restrained by police officers, yesterday expressed their disappointment at a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute any of the officers involved.

Prisoner's cell death
UK: A prisoner was found hanged in his cell last week, the Home Office said, fuelling criticism over the soaring number of suicides in custody.

Plans for five new 'superprisons'
Recent figures show a total of 75,550 prisoners were held in 139 jails in England and Wales, nudging up the previous record of April 2004 by just six inmates.

Prison has lost its way - report
UK: Bristol prison is suffering wide-ranging problems because of inconsistent management, the Chief Inspector of Prisons has said.

Row over acupuncture for prisoners
UK: The Home Office has responded to criticism over prison inmates who are being offered acupuncture on the NHS in order to relieve stress.

Number of prisoners sent back to jail trebles
UK: The number of prisoners being sent back to jail after release has nearly trebled in the past five years, according to a report published today.

Top judge says crowded prisons cannot break cycle of crime
UK: Reoffending rates after a prison sentence are at an "unacceptably high level" and the failure of the criminal justice system to stop prisoners reoffending should shock the public, England's top judge, [Ruling Class] Lord Woolf, said last week.

All the World's a Prison: History
No doubt many of my readers, even those who are well-educated or widely read, think that the prison -- the place where dark deeds are darkly answered[2] -- is an ancient institution, a barbaric hold-over from barbaric times. In fact, the prison is of relatively recent origin, and this tells us a great deal about the pretentions and realities of modern times, and the wisdom and high degree of development of the ancients.

Decade after inspector left in disgust, report tells of filth
UK: Dirty, mice-infested cells, high levels of self-harm, and widespread bullying over drugs and medications were just some of the damning findings of a report into conditions at Holloway, Britain's largest women's prison.

Most women 'should not be jailed'
Women make up 6% of the prison population in England and Wales. Imprisonment of women should be "virtually abolished", a prison reform group has said.

Youth 'murdered for officers' pleasure'
UK: An Asian teenager was murdered by a white racist after they were placed in the same cell as part of a game to fulfil the "perverted pleasure" of prison officers, a public inquiry heard on Friday.

Deaths in isolation as prison segregation increases
The use of segregation [solitary confinement] of prisoners as punishment has been increasing recently in Australia, the US, and the UK. Segregation can be used for protection or punishment, but in both cases it results in extreme psychological stress. An indication that segregation is being over-used is the appearance of deaths in custody from suicide of those placed in segregation.

Inquest blames jail for overdose death
UK: An inquest jury returned a verdict itemising a catalogue of faults at Styal prison in Cheshire, concluding that the prison's "failure of duty of care" contributed to the death of Sarah Campbell, 18, who took an overdose of tablets on the first day of her three-year sentence.

Put in the way of self-harm in a place intended to protect others
UK: Sarah Campbell, 18, spent the last hours of her life in the segregation unit of Styal prison, Cheshire. "The seg", as those places are referred to, used to be known as "the block", short for punishment block. [ Seg is a bullshit word for Punishment, Solitary Confinement, Torture, Mental Illness, Self-Harm, Human Rights Abuse and that is State Terror.]

Britain 'sliding into police state'
The home secretary, Charles Clarke, is transforming Britain into a police state, one of the country's former leading anti-terrorist police chiefs [false flag police chiefs] said yesterday.

UK solitary confinement
UK: Segregation units are prisons within prisons - the places where the most unchecked brutality is meted out to prisoners. In recent years conditions in high security segregation units have deteriorated, and the use of long-term segregation as a control mechanism has increased.

Inquiry must root out prison racists
UK: It is difficult to imagine a more brutal murder than that of Zahid Mubarek. The 19-year-old was clubbed to death by his cellmate at Feltham Young Offender Institution in the early hours of 21 March 2000. He was due to be released just a few hours later.

Prison suicides soar as jails hire 'babysitters'
UK: Prison officers are being taken off suicide watch and replaced by unqualified 'babysitters' because the system is overwhelmed by an epidemic of self-harm.

Plan to sell off juvenile jails as job lot
UK: The government is to put out to tender all its dedicated juvenile jails that hold children under 18 in a departure in Whitehall's privatisation programme.

Failure to sack 'racist' prison staff condemned
UK: Two prison officers suspended for racism are still on full pay three years after a stash of Nazi memorabilia, neo-fascist literature and Ku Klux Klan-inspired 'nigger-hunting licences' was found in a police raid on their home.

Report slams 'unjust' jailing of women on remand
UK: Six out of 10 women sent to jail while they await trial are acquitted or given a non-custodial sentence, a report published today reveals. Introducing the report, Lady Kennedy QC calls for a complete review of the use of remand and bail for women saying it is "inhumane and unjust".

Concern as UK prison suicides hit record level
UK: More prisoners took their own lives in English jails in August than in any other month since records began, prison reformers said today.

End of years of despair as Holloway closes its doors
But now Holloway prison in north London - where Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in Britain, was hanged in 1955 - has been earmarked for closure, along with several other women's prisons, which have been hit by a spate of suicides.

How detox and self-help brought suicide jail back from the brink
UK: Six suicides in 12 months made Styal jail notorious and the Prisons Ombudsman criticised the prison and its staff for serious failures. But things are changing.

Belmarsh detainees consider suicide, says freed man
UK: The first of the Muslim detainees released from Belmarsh high security prison after being held on suspicion of terrorism has told the Guardian his fellow prisoners are suffering such severe mental problems that they constantly consider suicide.

Suicides and unrest have soared, admits Home Office
UK:The already overcrowded prison population is set to go on rising and will top 80,000 within the next three years, a senior Home Office civil servant warned yesterday.

England tops the EU in imprisonment
England and Wales jail more offenders per capita than any other European, Union country, according to new figures.