Bishop Richard Moth, Spokesperson bishop for prisons in England and Wales has commended the efforts of British Prime Minister David Cameron on his strategies to tackle high levels of violence and re-offending.
Prime Minister Cameron announced on Monday his plans for the creation of six “reform prisons” both in England and Wales. He described the state of the UK prison system as ‘scandalous’ and said inmates should be treated as potential assets rather than liabilities.
In a statement released, the Right Reverend Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton said, he was “very encouraged by the Prime Minister’s commitment to reforming our prison system and his recognition that prisoners should be treated as assets to our society rather than liabilities to be managed. How we treat prisoners is one of the most pressing moral challenges today and something that none of us should ignore.”
Latest prison population figures for 2016 shows that this week there are 85,634 people in prisons and young offender institutions in England and Wales. The male prison population is 81,814 and the female prison population is 3,820. 14,247 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, 595 serious assaults on staff, 89 self-inflicted deaths .
Penal charities said reforms would not work if prisoners were “crammed into filthy institutions with no staff”.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Prisons are currently violent and overcrowded….
“We need action now to tackle sentence inflation and the profligate use of prison. Then the prime minister’s vision can become a reality.”
According to Bishop Moth, “Prison is a punishment itself, not somewhere people go to be punished further. The Prime Minister’s promises of better education and urgent improvements to mental health support are both important steps towards creating the ‘good prison’, where people are treated with dignity and given a real chance to turn their lives around.”
Expressing concerns over the overcrowded population in different prisons, the Archbishop said, “It is immoral to continue imprisoning more than 85,000 people without the proper means to support them.”
He added: “Ultimately an effective and humane prison system requires a significant reduction in the prison population. The Church is committed to working alongside government and using our expertise in reform and rehabilitation to help reach this goal.”