Imprisonment and punishment in the UK has proven to be an appalling failure.
Over the last thirty years, the UK has become over-reliant on police and prisons as a primary means for dealing with social problems. The number of people criminalised and sent to prison has spiralled out of control. Re-conviction rates remain high, victims’ needs are not met and social inequalities have continued to grow. The current use of imprisonment is unsustainable, unethical and ineffective in responding to social problems and harms.
We are calling for an immediate moratorium on prison construction. We support plans for the closure and demolition of existing prisons and demand that the land be signed over to local authority control on the agreement that it is used for much needed social housing.
This is an opportunity for a fundamental rethink in how our society responds to harm. A key part of such an approach should be to strengthen welfare and local services – and scale back the number of people criminalised and imprisoned. We need to build safe and healthy communities – not prisons.
Zack Ahmed, Sacha Darke, Chris Hignett, Tom Kemp, Sarah Lamble, Gloria Morrison, Alexandra Phillips, Hannah Pittaway, Rebecca Roberts, Neena Samota of The Reclaim Justice Network