Prisons in the press – 30 Sept 2016

Easier to get drugs than clothes or bedding in English prison

Source: Chris Grey on Flickr

Source: Chris Grey on Flickr

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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

Inmates at Bedford Prison can get drugs more easily than clothes or bedding’ according to the prison watchdog’s latest report. The report also revealed that incidents of self-harm had almost doubled from 67 to 121. We wrote a post about the report and the BBC has more here.

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Revealed this week

  1. Legal high deaths triple in prisons: 58 inmates have died from legal high-related murders, psychotic episodes or suicides in the past three years according to the Prison Ombudsman. That is triple the number who died from similar causes between April 2012 and September 2014. The Independent has more.
  2. Government plans to jam mobile phone signals in prisons: The government has asked telecoms companies to develop “new technological solutions” to prevent inmates from engaging in criminality from jail. Figures show that 15,000 Sim cards were confiscated by prison chiefs last year. It follows 9,745 handsets and sim cards found in 2014. The Sun has more.
  3. Fewer family visits for children held in youth prisons far from home: Analysis by HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that each 25-mile (40km) interval that a child was held from home was associated with one less visit from a relative or friend. BT has more.
  4. Lack of housing for women prisoners on release: Six in 10 women do not have homes to go to on release from prison, a new report published by the Prison Reform Trust and Women in Prison has found. Ekklesia has more.

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The prisons that hit the headlines   

  1. Bristol’s ill prison guards: Bristol prison has seen its highest levels of staff sickness in five years as staff missed an average of 19.9 working days each due to sickness in 2015-16. That is up 69 per cent on 2014-15 and triple the number missed in 2010-11. The Bristol Post has more.
  2. Maghaberry overdose victim stashed drugs: A prisoner who died after overdosing on prescribed medication stockpiled drugs when safeguarding measures were lifted at the Northern Irish prison, a watchdog has found. The Belfast Telegraph has more.
  3. Winchester Prison fails fathers’ rights campaigner: Fathers’ rights campaigner Haydn Burton, who was found hanged in his cell on July 15 last year, was failed by staff at the Hampshire prison who missed checks and communicated poorly with management and health care officials a jury has found. The Daily Echo has more.

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In context

HMP Bedford has been condemned for rising rates of suicide, violence and “easy access” to illegal drugs in latest Chief Inspector of Prisons report.

The number of prisoners reporting that it was easy to get drugs has almost doubled since the last inspection in February 2014. And 10 per cent more prisoners said they developed a drug problem while at the prison.

“The stark reality is that prisoners told us it was easier to get illegal drugs in the prison than it is to get clothes or sheets,” the report said.

The number of self-harm incidents also increased dramatically since the previous inspection, almost doubling from 67 to 121 in the previous six months. The number of prisoners self-harming rose from 56 to 96 in the same time.

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Bedford Prison. Source: Wikipedia

Bedford Prison. Source: Wikipedia

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Similarly, the use of force rose considerably with 104 incidents reported in the previous six months. Young inmates accounted for almost 20 per cent of incidents in which force was used although they make up just four per cent of the total prison population.

As well as increased violence, inspectors found that many prisoners live in old, overcrowded and cramped conditions. Inspectors also noted that a restricted regime has been introduced owing to staffing shortage and this has resulted in some inmates being unlocked for as little as one hour a day.

We wrote more about the report here.

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In other news

Over 200 Brazilian prisoners escaped from a minimum-security prison during an uprising, with about half recaptured within hours of the break. Inmates set fire to several cells in one wing of the prison and then knocked down a 13-foot tall mesh security fence allowing them to flee into sugar cane fields near Jardinopolis prison, which is about 100 miles northwest of Sao Paulo. The prison housed over 1,800 inmates, although it was built to hold just over 1,000. Reuters has more on the story.

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