Gleeds UK have released a report that examines the way in which the design of a prison can influence re-offending rates in England and Wales. Compiled by a panel of expert criminologists and psychologists with input from charities, prisoners, victims and prison managers, this new report examines how reforming management methods and prison design could significantly improve these rates, which currently stand at some of the highest in Europe. In fact, figures show that just under half of all adult prisoners are likely to reoffend within one year of release at a cost to the tax payer of £13 billion a year.
If implemented, the study suggests these changes could reduce assaults on staff by over 50%, significantly reduce the stress under which staff work and reduce overall costs. The report provides recommendations based on best practice on how the design of prisons may be improved and what can be integrated into newly built prisons.
The report outlines that there are currently high levels of recidivism and violence within prisons. A contributing factor towards this is the antiquated nature of many prison buildings and facilities. Many of the prisons currently in use in the UK are hundreds of years old. The age of these facilities impacts their utility, with high levels of self-harm, reduced availability of facilities and reduced access to exercise occurring as a result. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice is planning a 1.3 billion pounds prison-building programme and this study has set out recommendations for reform to the way prison buildings are designed and operated.
Key Recommendations from the report:
• Rates of incarceration should be reduced in favour of mandatory community service. Incarceration should be used where non-compliance with community service orders occurs;
• The ease of visiting a prisoner should be reduced. Improvements to visitation centres, proximity to public transport and adequate parking would work towards this. Visits by family members can help to improve rehabilitation;
• Staff work conditions should be improved in order to retain and draw in more qualified staff;
• The overuse of imprisonment should be radically curtailed. The prison population could be radically reduced with little to no effect on crime rates. More effective rehabilitation could then be performed on this smaller population. Prisons should be smaller and more ‘normalised’;
• Prisons should have a culture of creating positive change, providing skills and leaving prisoners better equipped to enter society. The prison environment should reflect this in its design in terms of light, colour and space.
To read the full report click here