Prisons in the press – 29 January

Inmates smash through cell walls and enjoy mini-all-inclusive holidays in jail 

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

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Prisons in the press brings you the best articles from the past week to keep you up-to-date on prison news.

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Hot off the press

Pioneering course sees inmates learn Criminology alongside university students (and score higher marks). The Inside-Out programme, based on a successful model in America, was set up a year ago at HMP Frankland and involves studying texts, holding discussions and writing essays on criminology and the justice system. Chronicle Live has the story.

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Revealed this week

  1. £220,000 compensation bill after inmates sue 542 times in three years. Which means a prisoner has sued the Prison System every other day on average, since 2013. The Belfast Telegraph has more. This comes just weeks after it was revealed that the system was being swamped by up to 30 complaints a day (we covered this in 15th January Prisons in the press).
  2. Inmates smash through cell walls at Leicester prison and stage a four hour stand-off with guards. An investigation has been launched after six inmates who were held in separate cells managed to force their way into a single cell by dismantling the walls between them. The Leicester Mercury has the full story.   
  3. Independent body to oversee scandal hit Medway youth facility. Justice Secretary Michael Gove said additional oversight of the Medway Security Training Centre, run by the security firm G4S, was needed to ensure the STC was being run safely and that necessary lessons had been learned. The Guardian has more.
  4. Offenders enjoying “all-inclusive mini-break” inside prison, says Tory MP. Philip Davies says criminals are deliberately re-offending in order to be sent back to prison so they can profit from dealing drugs. ITV has the full story.

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Redeveloping prisons   

  1. Plan to convert Shrewsbury’s Dana into a hotel rejected. The company behind plans to redevelop Shrewsbury’s former Dana prison, which has been running ‘Jailhouse Tours’ since August last year, is considering plans for student accommodation instead. The Shropshire Star has the story 
  2. Concerns raised over Dorchester prison site proposals. Residents are worried the ‘bulky’ buildings proposed for the former Dorchester prison site would “destroy” views around the area. The Dorchester Echo has more.
  3. Wrexham’s new £212m prison is on schedule despite poor weather. High winds and rain have not hampered construction of the super prison (which will hold 2,100 inmates and create about 1,000 jobs) which is due to be completed in February next year. The Leader has the story.
    • Welsh MP Liz Saville Roberts has called for the super-prison to include wings for women and young offenders, so inmates can stay close to their families. WalesOnline has more.

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News is context: Education programme to change lives 

That’s the hope of one of the professors behind Durham University’s Inside-Out programme which sees other course students work alongside the inmates – inside the prison walls.

At first university students were said to be “terrified” at the prospect of entering Durham’s high-security jail, which has housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals. But they soon formed bonds and found themselves kept on their toes by their quick-learning coursemates.

The results after 10 intensive three-hour weekly sessions revealed that, on certain parts of the course, some of the dedicated “inside” students scored higher marks.

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Former prisoner and now consultant Jermain James. Source: Chronicle Live

Former prisoner and now consultant Jermain James. Source: Chronicle Live

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One former Frankland prisoner, Jermain James, who served 13-and-a-half years for attempted murder said of the course:

“It reinforced the very thing that we didn’t believe, that we were more than capable of being successful outside crime. It changed everybody. Some students cried at the end because they saw themselves in us, as humans that make mistakes; likewise we saw ourselves in them, as people who make mistakes but had the ability to change their prospects via transformative education.”

The 34-year-old, who had been expelled from school at the age of 13, has now set up a consultancy to mentor and help people stay away from crime. He is now considering studying for a Masters degree.

You can listen to Jermaine’s whole interview on the BBC’s website when he spoke on BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme.

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In other news 

Inmate knocked out by 11 falling boxes of potatoes is set to sue the prison service. The prisoner, who was helping out in the jail kitchen when the boxes of spuds – weighing just over 17-stone – fell on his head. Solicitors say the “accident illustrates the dangers inmates are exposed to in places of work.” MailOnline has more.     

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