When the government claims that there is no money available for front-line services, and then finds over a billion pounds for new mega-prisons, it is hypocrisy. More crucially, it is not an answer. Even by their own standards, prison is an ineffective way to prevent re-offending. And the US clearly shows us that mass incarceration is a toxic and devastating policy.
Instead of building prisons, why don’t we build our capacity to support people? Rather than shutting down provision for homelessness, addiction and domestic abuse, why don’t we expand them? Rather than selling prisons as ‘new jobs’, why don’t we create more meaningful employment that allows communities to actually support each other? Prisons profit from the super-cheap labour of inmates, which they then offer to businesses – this undercuts wages in the local area.
What can we do?