In normal times I would ask you to imagine what it is like to be in prison. But right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, we are all living in constrained conditions. For some of us, these constraints are more difficult or more restrictive than for others.
Aylesbury prison holds young adults, mainly teenagers, and it has been one of the worst prisons in the country for years. It was so awful that it was put into emergency special measures and half the young men were shipped out to other jails – many of which are only marginally better. Despite the extra help, a new inspection shows it is still desperately awful.
My fourth blogpost looks at the Conservative manifesto. The main problem is that many of the specific proposals are in opposition to evidence. Either they are not backed up by evidence, they are directly contradicted by evidence or, at best, they lack evidence.
The Green Party manifesto was published this week. At 88 pages it is pretty comprehensive, although most of the crime proposals are entreaties to do things better rather than specific legislative reforms. As we know from long experience, just asking people to do things does not necessary achieve the desired result. Although, it is also true that simply introducing new laws can have no effect or indeed have unintended consequences.
I spent yesterday in a prison holding adult men. It is a complex place, with a wing holding men convicted of sex offences who have to be moved and provided with activities separate to the other wings, and another wing with vulnerable men who also have to be separated. The prison is twice as big as it should be, dilapidated and seriously in need of repair and investment. Despite this, I met enthusiastic, committed and thoughtful staff and managers, working hard to do the very best they could.
More prisoners will be given the opportunity for early release on temporary licence. This is another undoing of a Chris Grayling decision, which was taken six years ago and meant that thousands of men and women spent longer in prison and were denied the opportunity to find work, spend time with families prior to release and acclimatise themselves to the real world.
We submitted evidence to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, setting out how the UK fails to live up to its obligations under the Convention, and I was invited to go to Geneva to give a briefing to the Committee before it grilled our government representatives.