* New emphasis placed on reducing reoffending rates
* Community prisons will make family visits easier
UK: The home secretary, Charles Clarke, has said he is to abandon his predecessor's aspiration of pegging the prison population in England and Wales at 80,000. He will also drop plans to put a legal obligation on the judges' sentencing guidelines council to take the size of the prison population - currently 77,000 and rising - into account when laying down the "going rate" for major crimes.
"I am not convinced that an overall obligation to look at the overall size of the prison population is the right thing to do," Mr Clarke, who succeeded David Blunkett, said. Instead, the home secretary wants to cut Britain's reoffending rates by creating a network of community prisons to ensure that those serving short sentences remain close to their families and communities.
He recognises that an overcrowded prison system means that goal will be difficult to achieve but believes a system of community prisons can be set up by restructuring the jail network and by greater use of community punishments for some of those serving short sentences.
The new approach will be unveiled tonight by Mr Clarke in a speech to the Prison Reform Trust - his first major statement on penal policy since he became home secretary last December.
Mr Clarke also dismissed "as a complete horlicks" repeated Sunday newspaper speculation that Tony Blair is unhappy with his performance as home secretary and intends to reshuffle him.
He described himself as "tough but not populist", a position he says No 10 is very happy with. Some described Mr Blunkett as populist, so Mr Clarke is signalling a change in style.
He also said that he wants to end the remote image of the Home Office. Because of the pressure on his time caused by the terrorist outrages, he admitted he has not yet had the chance to spell out his vision of penal policy, saying today's speech to the Prison Reform Trust will make clear that for a government that puts health and education at the heart of its mission, the prison system does not reflect Labour values. "We don't do enough for the least healthy and the least educated people in the country, who are the people in the criminal justice system, particularly if we know that if you solve issues like literacy and numeracy then you can solve issues like drug abuse and mental health [so] that people are less likely to offend than would otherwise be the case."
He said a large proportion of the prison population, including some on remand or serving shorter sentences, need to remain more closely integrated with their communities. "We need to get to a state of affairs where prisoners are able to reintegrate into society through developing their relations with their friends and family. The break in that - and it happens often -is the damaging thing in people's ability to stop reoffending."
Families and friends on average travel five hours to visit an inmate and the number of jail visits is dropping. As many as two-thirds of prisoners see their relationships with partners end. Many others lose job or home.
"We need to work much harder to organise community prisons so that prisoners when they are in prison are in reasonably close geographical proximity to the people who they know and to their future."
He added that he was asking some multinational companies to employ a set number of former prisoners, so long as they had acquired the relevant skills. One such deal has already been struck, with Transco, the gas pipelines company.
* create a network of community prisons so inmates are closer to their families
* abandon the aspiration of pegging the prison population to 80,000
* abandon proposals that sentencing take into account prison overcrowding
* end the remote image of the Home Office
By Patrick Wintour and Alan Travis 19 September 05
Crowded jails 'boosting suicides'
UK: The chief inspector of prisons warned that an overcrowding crisis in Britain's jails was leading to an increase in prisoner suicides.
Chief justice calls for new approach to law and order
UK: The retiring [ruling class] lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, made a passionate plea for a new approach to law and order which would see a major shift away from punishment towards the solution of problems which generate crime.
Britain's only prison ship ends up on the beach
UK: The last inmates have departed and a skeleton staff is left guarding Britain's only prison ship - in case anyone is minded to break in rather than out.
Throw away the key
The one profession to get results on recidivism has been sacrificed to Labour's desire to lock up criminals in private prisons.
Judges' misdeeds will remain secret
UK: Judges who are disciplined for bad behaviour will not have the findings against them made public under a complaints regime to be launched next year.
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.
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 -- 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.
Govt, police 'let off the hook' Haneef inquiry
8 years ago