Prisons in the press – 29 July

Assaults on prison staff, mistaken releases and female inmate suicides all reach record highs 

... Image: Jumilla

The Ministry of Justice’s annual statistics reveal the worsening state of British jails. Image: Jumilla

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

Hot off the press

Assaults on prison staff at record high, figures show. There were 5,423 assaults on prison staff in the 12 months to the end of March – a rise of 40 per cent on last year, the Ministry of Justice revealed. The BBC has more.


Revealed this week

  1. Women’s prison suicide rate soars as charity warns of “horrifying” self-harm. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that the number of women killing themselves in prison has “risen alarmingly”. The Independent has the story.
  2. Number of prisoners freed by mistake hits highest level for six years. 65 convicted criminals or suspects were freed in error in 2015/16, which equals a rate of inmates released in error of more than one a week. Read more here.
  3. Prisoner with dementia “kept handcuffed just before death”. An elderly prisoner was kept handcuffed to an officer for two days while he was in hospital with pneumonia. AOL has more.
  4. Books described as the “Mein Kampf of terrorism” found in prison libraries seven months after they were banned. The presence of Islamist literature was reported to the Ministry of Justice in November, according to the BBC. MailOnline has the story.
  5. Video emerges of an inmate biting a pigeon’s head off in return for drugs. The sickening footage, assumed to have been filmed on a banned mobile phone, shows the prisoners decapitating the bird in front of his cheering cell mates. The Sun has more.


In comment 

Drug policy is crucial to prison reform. George McBride for the Huffington Post provides analysis and response to Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales’ first annual report on the state of British prisons, which highlighted “unacceptable levels of violence” and the “harm caused by new psychoactive substances”. Read more here.

We act as though people in prison deserve everything they get. They don’t. The Guardian’s Kathleen Maltzahn discusses the royal commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention. She explains that the child torture witnessed on Four Corners is part of a continuum that allows sexual, psychological, social and physical violence as a matter of course. The Guardian has more.


In other news

Inside the UK’s biggest prison: HMP Oakwood in Staffordshire. By the end of this year HMP Oakwood will be the largest prison in the UK with more than 2,000 inmates. Run by private firm G4S, Oakwood’s reputation was dented in 2014 when a wing in the prison was taken over by inmates. The BBC’s Sima Kotecha reports inside.


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