London – April 16, 2011 – The rise in prison population is “financially unsustainable, it is pointless and very bad value for taxpayers’ money,” said the British Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke in an interview published today by The Times.
Part of the massive reduction in public spending pursued by the conservative-liberal democrats coalition of David Cameron and Nick Clegg, Mr Clark is preparing to publish a bill next month which which will include proposals to allow for large sentence discounts in return for early guilty pleas and diverting the mentally ill away from jail.
The goal is a 3,000 cut in the record 85,000 jail population in England and Wales in four years. The government intends to cut by 20% the current 4 billion pounds prison and probation budget, over the same period.
Mr Clark blamed the media and lobby groups for helping to create a public perception that prison life is easy, adding: “Prisons are not hotels, they are not comfortable, they are overcrowded, they are noisy. Anyone who visits a prison soon realises the prevailing atmosphere is one of stupefying boredom on the part of inmates.
“It is just very, very bad value for taxpayers’ money to keep banging them up and warehousing them in overcrowded prisons where most of them get toughened up.”