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Guardian: Why prison-building is criminal

6th May 2010

The prison population of England and Wales has been skyrocketing for some time now, and is far and away the largest prison population in western Europe - a fact of no importance for those politicians advocating huge prison-building programmes, writes George Lavender in the Guardian.

In a time of falling crime rates, it is counter-intuitive that prisoner numbers and the costs of maintaining prisons continue to rise.

It is a self-fulfilling prophecy; more prison spaces leads inevitably to more prisoners. Whatever space created will quickly be filled and then deemed insufficient. A fact which will become only too apparent if Thornton Hall is allowed to mushroom in the fields outside Dublin.

Further, it remains the case that prisons draw funding from areas which could pack a bigger punch in the crime reduction stakes - areas such as housing, drug rehabilitation programmes, health initiatives, and early intervention schemes for example.

With calls for a justice investment rethink becoming more insistent, can we finally put this never-ending prison-building obsession behind us.

Read the article in the Guardian.