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England & Wales: Prison population hits record 85,000 after end of early release scheme

23rd April 2010

In an article in The Guardian newspaper on Friday 23rd of April, Alan Travis reports on soaring numbers in prisons in England & Wales. 

"There has been a rise of 192 prisoners in prisons in England and Wales in the last week and of more than 1,000 over the last six weeks, when the decision to end the early release scheme was announced.

"The emergency early release scheme, known as end of custody licence, was designed to relieve pressure on prisons and applied only to low-risk inmates serving sentences of less than four years.

The article also reports on the Labour prison building programme, describing it as the biggest in western Europe, aiming to bring the number of places in the system to 96,000 by 2014. The £4.2bn programme includes five 'super-prisons' which will hold 1,500 prisoners each (this is in fact lower than previous plans for 'titan' prisons.)

The article also quotes Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, who said that "having doubled since the mid-1990s, a new record had been reached with no end in sight to further record highs."

"Recent statistics show that 36.8% reoffended on community sentences in 2008, compared with more than 61% for those sentenced to a year or less in prison. Not only are community sentences more effective at reducing crime but they come at a fraction of the price, with a community order costing on average £2,000-£3,000 a year, compared with at least £41,000 a year to run a prison place."

To access the full article, click here.