The Need for Prisons in Britain Essay

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The Need for Prisons in Britain

The prison population in England and Wales currently stands at 71,800. According to the Home Office estimate this figure is projected to rise to 83,500 by 2008. Similarly in Scotland, which has a separate legal system and its own private service, there are similar pressures. Prisons can be successful in their four aims: retribution, protection, deterrence and rehabilitation. Reconviction rates are at a substantial low, but is that enough? Whilst compared with the problems facing prisons aquestion arises, 'is it really prisons Britain needs?' There are several other approaches to punishing, deterring and rehabilitating offenders whilst also protecting the public.
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This is particularly accentuated whilst studying women. In November 2001 a third men's jail had to be converted to take female prisoners in response to a sizeable fluctuation in the female prison population. A record of 4,045 women are housed in British prisons. In 2001-2002 the female prison population increased by 28%. It is conclusive that women are incarcerated, predominantly for drug-related offences and violence. This significant increase has placed the women's prison educational and drug rehabilitation programmes in jeopardy due to overcrowding.

It is a similar feature when investigating men's prisons also. Due to overcrowding there is a shortage of workshops, educational projects, drug treatment and offending behaviour programmes not to mention staff shortages. Nearly two thirds of the UK's prisoners are being held in overcrowded jails and Shrewsbury is a typical example of this with 331 prisoners but only 184 places.

Contrarily, the prison service is also beneficial to the inmates it detains and also Britain as a whole. Crime is falling. Why? Prison works. Crime has fallen chiefly because more offenders are in prison. Between 1993 and 2001 the average number of people in prison rose from 45,633 to 66,300, an increase of over 45%. What happened to crime over this period? According

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