Rise in ‘draconian punishments’ at Ford Prison highlighted by report

Ford Prison April 2015 SUS-150904-195500001
Ford Prison April 2015 SUS-150904-195500001

The number of additional days of imprisionment given to ‘rule breakers’ at Ford Prison rose by 90 per cent from 2014 to 2015, according to a report published today.

Figures, by the Howard League for Penal Reform, found the additional time behind bars equated to more than ‘33,000 days - or 91 years’ - across the South East last year.

Its report cites ‘growing pressure due to overcrowding and a lack of staff’ as the reasons ‘draconian punishments’ are being resorted to ‘in a desperate and counter-productive attempt to keep control’.

‘A Million Days: The world of prison discipline’, looks at how prisons operate disciplinary hearings where allegations of rule-breaking are tried.

In a statement Howard League said: “These mainly concern disobedience, disrespect or property offences, which increase as conditions in prisons deteriorate.”

It published figures which show Ford Prison imposed an additional 993 days on prisioners in 2014 for such offences, rising to 1,891 days in 2015.

This increase is higher than the average illustrated by Ministry of Justice (MoJ) data, across England and Wales, which states the number of additional days’ imprisonment imposed has increased by 30 per cent in a year – from 165,856 in 2014 to 215,348 in 2015.

The report marks the start of a new Howard League campaign to reduce the number of people in prison by reforming The 3Rs – rules in prison; release from prison; and recall to prison - and comes during the same week thousands of prison officers stopped working during a day of protest at the conditions behind bars.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The system of adjudications has become a monster. Originally intended as a way to punish incidents of unacceptable conduct, it is now routinely used as a behaviour management technique by prisons that are out of control.”

She added: “Instead of solving the problems, these punishments feed a vicious cycle, piling more pressure on the prison population and worsening overcrowding, which in turn creates conditions for drug abuse and violence.”

In addition, Ms Crook stated that ‘rules to incentivise prisoners’ behaviour have been made more punitive’ which is contributing to the issue and that while ‘the government has acknowledged that there are problems in the system, but warm words are not enough’.

To find out more about the report and campagin visit www.howardleague.org