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MPs say £4.2 billion plan for prison expansion is a costly mistake

14th January 2010

A Commons select committee report on justice describes how money would be better spent on rehabilitation and prevention to cut crime as opposed to expanding the prison building programme. The MPs say that prison expansion will take jail capacity in England and Wales to 96,000 by 2014 making it the prison capital of Western Europe.

‘Cutting Crime: The Case for Justice Reinvestment’ is based on a two-year inquiry by a cross-party group of MPs. It discloses that the £4.24bn cost of creating 10,000 extra prisoner places by 2014, has "more or less been guaranteed by the Treasury" despite the public spending crisis.  

The MPs claim the government "is wedded to a prison-building agenda" despite vast amounts of evidence displaying jail is not the most effective way of reducing reoffending. The report outlines that the incarceration rate would be 169 per 100,000 in England and Wales. 

Due to the biggest public spending crisis the MPs see it as an opening for a radical overhaul to the whole penal system. They want to cap the prison population at 84, 000 and investing resources in education, health, drug and alcohol community programmes.

The Justice Chair Committee Alan Beith claimed that the expansion of prison places is being fuelled by political and media pressure.

The Probation Chiefs Association and penal reformers have widely welcomed the findings of the report.

See the article by Alan Travis in The Guardian for more information; the link to the article is given below:

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