Prison system reform to be announced in Queen’s Speech.

‘The country’s first autonomous reform prisons are today named as the biggest shake-up of the prisons system since the Victorian era begins.

The announcement of the 6 trailblazer sites in London, the East Midlands and north-east, including one of Europe’s largest prisons – HMP Wandsworth – means that more than 5,000 offenders will be housed in reform prisons by the end of this year.

The other prisons are HMP Holme House, HMP Kirklevington Grange, HMP Coldingley, HMP High Down and HMP Ranby.

These prisons will give unprecedented freedoms to prison governors, including financial and legal freedoms, such as how the prison budget is spent and whether to opt-out of national contracts; and operational freedoms over education, the prison regime, family visits, and partnerships to provide prison work and rehabilitation services.

A new regime of transparency will hold governors to account, with comparable statistics to be published for each prison on reoffending, employment rates on release, and violence and self-harm.

The sweeping reforms of the prison system will further the government’s commitment to public protection through cutting crime by reducing reoffending.’ -

‘The review into prison education by Dame Sally Coates advocates the increased use of “in-cell technology, such as iPads, so prisoners can learn independently”, according to extracts from a draft of the report seen by the Guardian.

The findings will be published alongside the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, which will include legislation that ministers say represents the biggest shakeup in prisons since Victorian times.

The prisons bill will pave the way for satellite tracking that will allow some offenders to spend just weekends in jail, introduce league tables on reoffending, employment rates, violence and self harm, and give the governors at six major prisons unprecedented freedoms. Prisons will be able to determine how their budgets are spent and opt out of national contracts.

The legislation will be a centrepiece of the government’s Queen’s speech, which David Cameron wants to be centred around improving the life chances of the most disadvantaged individuals in the country.

Cameron said his government was preparing to present a “One Nation Queen’s speech from a One Nation government”.

“For too long, we have left our prisons to fester. Not only does that reinforce the cycle of crime, increasing the bills of social failure that taxpayers must pick up. It writes off thousands of people,” he said.

Gove said: “Prisons must do more to rehabilitate offenders. We will put governors in charge, giving them the autonomy they need to run prisons in the way they think best.

“By trusting governors to get on with the job, we can make sure prisons are places of education, work and purposeful activity. These reforms will reduce reoffending, cut crime and improve public safety.”

A Conservative source claimed that none of the reforms should be seen as “soft on crime”, pointing out that the vast majority of prisoners end up back on the streets, so rehabilitation is critical.

As well as promising massive freedoms for prisons, starting with sites in the east Midlands, the north-east and London, including HMP Wandsworth, the government will welcome the findings of Coates into how to improve education inside prisons.’ - The Guardian

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