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Prison: Current Situation

Prison Overcrowding
As a whole, the prison system has been overcrowded every year since 1994. Many jails exceed the Prison Service's definition of overcrowding, but meet a level considered safe. At the end of January 2006, 53% of prisons were overcrowded. Overcrowding has significant effects on the whole of the criminal justice system. For example, as a direct result of overcrowding, an increasing number of prisoners are being held a significant distance from their home towns. This costs the taxpayer millions of pounds in transportation costs and in delays to the criminal justice system, as a result of late arrivals for court appearances. It also jeopardises family relationships and the chances of successful re-integration back into the community on release; two of the most important factors in reducing re-offending.

Reoffending Rates
One of the main criticisms of custodial sentence the anti-prison loby use, is that released prisoners are extremely likely to reoffend - 61% of all prisoners released in 2001 were reconvicted within two years. But this is not only limited to custodial sentences. 75 per cent of young offenders who had been placed on an electronic tag were reconvicted within a year of completing the scheme, compared to 69 per cent of all young offenders who serve custodial sentences. It is clear that we must address the reoffending rates of all criminals, not just those that have been incarcerated.

Failure Of Care
It seems clear from the research that the prison system mops up the failures in the care system. Almost a third or prisoners spent time as children in care and the prison population as a whole has a frighteningly high rate of mental illness. For example, 70% of female sentenced prisoners suffer from two or more mental disorders, compared to 2% of women in the general population. Likewise, 44% of male sentenced prisoners suffer from three or more mental disorders, compared to 1% of the male general population. Up to 95% of young prisoners aged 15 to 21 suffer from a mental disorder. Around 80% suffer from at least two. Assuming we cannot 'fix' social and health services, one way to reduce crime (and reoffending rates) would be to tackle these issues whilst the criminals are in prison. This particular issue is something that we wish to address in the future.

Women In Prison
This section is currently under development.

Youths
This section is currently under development.

As more articles are added, we expect the "Current Situation" section to change significantly.

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