Overcrowding in our prisons is only part of the scandal. We need to consider also the victims of crime. We need to protect society and to prevent offenders re-offending when they are released.
There has been some argument about just what is the degree of overcrowding in Shrewsbury prison. That our prisons are overcrowded is indeed a disgrace. It is bad for the staff, for the inmates and at the end of the day it is bad for us, the whole of society. Every year we imprison more people in the country. We imprison more children than any other country in Europe. Over 70% of prisoners have mental health problems and about a quarter have learning disabilities. Two thirds of prisoners re-offend within two years, and for young offenders the re-offending rate is even higher.
It is clear that prison is not achieving what we expect of it.
The good news is that there is another way and the Youth Offending Service for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin is leading the way. Restorative Justice is a more practical and constructive way of dealing with offenders. It is a way of helping the victims as well as dealing with the offender, and increasingly it is being used in Shropshire.
Dr Charles West
Parliamentary Candidate: Shrewsbury and Atcham Liberal Democrats
tel: 07775 800744