Open Letter to John Penrose MP | RE: Prison Reform
The letter is as follows:
Dear Mr John Penrose,
I am a 15-year-old member of UKIP and as your constituent I wanted to write to you on an issue that I am very passionate about – justice. I am very much in favour of different parties working together to achieve solutions that work for all so I hope my being in UKIP will not affect our communication on this crucial matter.
I am very concerned about the Prisons and Courts Bill (HC Bill 145) because I feel that it fails to recognise that one of the most fundamental purposes of prisons is to punish criminals and deliver justice. I would argue this is the most important purpose.
The bill sets out the purposes of prisons in Part 1, Section 1(2):
A1 Purpose of prisons
In giving effect to sentences or orders of imprisonment or detention imposed by courts, prisons must aim to—
(a) protect the public,
(b) reform and rehabilitate offenders,
(c) prepare prisoners for life outside prison, and
(d) maintain an environment that is safe and secure.
While it is clear that these are all good aims and each have their own purpose for both society and prisoners, I feel that the primary purpose of prisons should be to deliver justice for victims by punishing prisoners.
I also take issue with the way in which prisoners are currently and will be reformed. I feel that the best method of reform is in fact to deter. If prisoners are given poor but bearable conditions 24/7 and do not have many resources to enjoy themselves with such as televisions and excellent sports facilities, they will have an experience they never wish to repeat and I believe a dramatic fall in reoffending rates will follow.
In my view, it cannot be right that millions of pounds is spent funding training for criminals in prisons in areas like computing and other highly skilled disciplines while we have 7,000 veterans sleeping on our streets.
I would be interested to know how you will be voting on this bill and why this is. If you disagree with my view, would you answer the following questions so that I can understand your position more clearly:
- Why should prisons not have a stated purpose of punishing criminals including murderers and rapists?
- Why should law-abiding taxpayers’ money be spent on training criminals to get prestigious jobs when hundreds of thousands of children are still in schools that are not even Ofsted “good”?
- What makes a (well behaving) prisoner entitled to government-funded training when law-abiding people seeking a job are given no such treatment?
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to hearing back from you and I hope that we will agree on this issue.
If you agree with the letter, share it on social media to make sure we get a reply! I will publish Mr Penrose’s response below if/when I receive it.