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[Closed] M-4: Prison Book and Guitar Restrictions Reversal
Under my predecessor at the Ministry of Justice one of the many necessary reforms implemented to account for the current challenges in our prisons were the changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme – during 2013 -, outlining the different levels of privileges prisoners could gain access to in a logic of improving currently poor behavior and ensuring prisoners do not view prison lightly.
It is my belief, and I believe the shared belief among most people in Britain that prison works, and that criminals ought to be punished in a proportional and responsible manner not only for their crimes but for the harm they inflict on innocent people. And so while I am keenly interested in ensuring prison works even better and that we toughen up rules concerning areas of consistent abuse by prisoners such as drugs, illegal mobile phone use and the like, I also believe we need to recognize which punishments work to correct the behavior of a prisoner in an effective way, and which ones may actually get in the way of the ultimate goal of rehabilitation when possible.
Therefore, while legislation may be expected in the coming days pertaining to some aspects in need of tougher measures, the Ministry of Justice has decided to immediate halt and reverse two particular restrictions introduced under the latest reforms to the Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme: one of them is the restriction on the number of books a prisoner can have on his cell – currently 12 – and the full restriction on prisoners received books via parcels by relatives. The other is the current restriction on steel-string guitars inside prisons cells, currently restricted only to supervised sessions.
Ultimately, Mr. Speaker, as many experts have asserted music and literature are two crucial ways in which rehabilitation can be improved, or helped. And much as I believe in the fundamental necessity of instilling a greater sense of discipline and order in our prisons, I am also aware of how important it is to ensure those currently imprisoned are made productive citizens once again if we are to reduce the number of people incarcerated while at the same time cutting on reoffending rates. We must also understand that many of these individuals are potential assets to our society that can be made productive, and having prisoners sitting idly by in their cells and doing nothing when they could be learning, or improving their literacy, or improving themselves as individuals through music is unacceptable. This is a possible door towards rehabilitation that we should not close.
Nonetheless, Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that this measure will mean returning control over these two issues back to Governors and continue the necessary trend of decentralization in justice. The Governors will once again have full power to decide on whether to withhold inappropriate or unsafe books, or restrict the use of guitars based on the particular privileges awarded to a particular prison, and book parcels or packages will most certainly be subjected to necessary security checks.
There is significant work to be done to improve a justice system that is many ways outdated and in need of reform. It is my hope that these minor alterations to our Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme will work for the best, and will be taking further legislative and ministerial measures to ensure the objectives regarding prison outlined on this very statement are accomplished.
Rt. Hon. Andrew Summer MP
First Secretary of State (2013 - 2014)
Justice Secretary (2013 - 2014, 2014 - Present)
Nations, Regions, and Local Government Secretary (2014 - Present)
Member of Parliament for Ashford (2001 - Present)
Parliamentary experience: Unknown (19)
Media experience: Unknown (22)
Policy experience: Unknown (13)