What is prison for? (Isle of Man)


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Presentation to the Positive Action Group, Isle of Man, September 2009 'What is prison for?'

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What is prison for? (Isle of Man)

  1. 1. WHAT IS PRISON FOR? • Andrew Neilson, Assistant Director, Public Affairs and Policy, presentation on the Isle of Man September 2009
  2. 2. What is prison for? • Punishment • Public protection • Deterrence • Rehabilitation
  3. 3. What do people have to say about prison? • ‘The degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons’ - Fyodor Dostoevsky • ‘The first real principle which should guide anyone trying to establish a good system of prisons would be to prevent as many people as possible getting there at all’ - Winston Churchill
  4. 4. How is prison used? • The past decade and a half has seen an unprecedented expansion in the English & Welsh prison population • In 1994, the average prison population was 48,631 • On Friday 18 September 2009 the English & Welsh prison population reached an all time high of 84,422
  5. 5. Many thousands of new prison places have been built…
  6. 6. What has caused this growth in prison numbers? • A 78% increase in the use of immediate custodial sentences • A 19% increase in those sent to prison for breaches of parole licence and community supervision
  7. 7. People are also spending longer in prison • The average time served in prison has increased by 14% since 2000 • The proportion of the sentenced prison population serving indeterminate or life sentences increasing from 9% in 1995 to 19% in 2009 • England & Wales has more prisoners serving these open-ended sentences than the rest of western Europe combined
  8. 8. Legislation has had its part to play…
  9. 9. Do crime rates have any bearing on prison numbers?
  10. 10. Not necessarily...
  11. 11. Does prison reduce reoffending?
  12. 12. Who do our prisons hold? • Around 55% of prisoners are considered ‘problematic drug users’ • One in five prisoners report opiate use in prison, many for the first time • 27% of prisoners are BME - compared to one in eleven of the general population • 48% of prisoners are at, or below, the level expected of an 11 year old in reading, 65% in numeracy and 82% in writing
  13. 13. Mental health is a major concern • Over one third of men serving prison sentences have a significant mental health problem • One in four attempt suicide in prison • Self injury rates in prison increased by 37% between 2003 and 2007 - four times the increase in the prison population • Women committed 54% of this self injury, despite the fact that only 5% of the prison population is female
  14. 14. Women in prison • Women in prison are twenty times more likely to suffer from delusional or schizophrenic disorders than women in the general population • Over half of women in prison have suffered domestic abuse and one in three have been victims of sexual abuse • Nearly a third of women in prison have no previous convictions, more than double the proportion of men
  15. 15. Children in prison • Two out of five girls and one out of four boys in prison report violence at home • One in three girls and one in 20 boys in custody have histories of sexual abuse • 40% of children in prison have been homeless
  16. 16. Prison fails children • Over a third of children report feeling unsafe in custody • 75% of children leaving custody will go on to reoffend, the highest for any age group
  17. 17. What are prison population rates? • International prison population rates are measured per 100,000 of the general population • The median prison population rate for Western Europe in 2008 was 95 prisoners per 100,000 of the general population
  18. 18. England & Wales is an outlier in Western Europe
  19. 19. How does the Isle of Man compare? • The English & Welsh prison rate in 2008 was 153 prisoners per 100,000, Scotland (152), N. Ireland (88) • The Isle of Man’s prison rate in 2008 was 127 prisoners per 100,000 of the general population
  20. 20. Some other countries... • France (96) • Germany (89) • Republic of Ireland (76) • Norway (69) • Finland (64) • Iceland (44)
  21. 21. Population of the prison on Friday 25 September • 111 individuals in custody on Friday • Seven women • 14 young men aged 21 and under • Eight prisoners over 50, the oldest of which is aged 75
  22. 22. The Isle of Man has a high number of prisoners held on remand • In 2008, prisoners on remand or pre-trial detention constituted 27.8% of the population • In England & Wales the proportion of remand prisoners was 16.1% • Last week just over 40% of the prison population in the new prison were held on remand
  23. 23. Why so many on remand? • England & Wales has the Bail Act 1976, which gives a presumption in favour of bail • The Isle of Man has no such legislation • England & Wales has Custody Time Limits to ensure cases are heard expeditiously and individuals are not remanded to custody for excessive periods • The Isle of Man has no Custody Time Limits
  24. 24. Drugs • Lengthy sentences are in place for drug importation and supply • Around 50% of the Isle of Man’s prison population are inside for drug-related offences
  25. 25. Life sentenced prisoners • The Isle of Man is a compact jurisdiction and life sentenced prisoners will go to England & Wales • Currently six lifers from the Isle of Man in England & Wales
  26. 26. Voting • Prisoners on the Isle of Man have the vote • England & Wales has an absolute statutory bar on prisoners having the vote • In 2005 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that this was unlawful
  27. 27. The Isle of Man has mirrored increases in England & Wales • When the Chief Inspector of Prisons last visited in 2006, there were 66 prisoners (rate of 86.5 per 100,000) • In 2008, the average prison population was 97 (rate of 127 per 100,000) • The average daily total in 2009 has been 105 (rate of 137.5 per 100,000)
  28. 28. As with England & Wales, more prison places have been built • The Victoria Road prison could hold a maximum of 92 prisoners, with cell-sharing • The new facility can hold 138 in single cells • Since opening the new prison, the prison population has now gone over the 100 mark • It reached an all-time high of 124 on 7th June 2009
  29. 29. Crime comparisons • In 2007-08 the crime rate in England & Wales was 92 incidents per 1,000 of the population • On the Isle of Man in the same period the crime rate was 48 per 1,000
  30. 30. Violent crime comparisons • Violent crime in England & Wales in 2007-08: 20 incidents per 1,000 • The Isle of Man saw 13 incidents of violent crime per 1,000 in 2007-08
  31. 31. A note on costs... • In 2008-9, the Isle of Man prison service had a budget of £10.2m • The Isle of Man probation service had a budget of £1.7m
  32. 32. Pennies and pounds • The Isle of Man spends 16p on probation for every £1 spent on prison • In 2008-9 England & Wales spent £2.9bn on prisons and £876m on probation - or 30p spent on probation for every £1 spent on prison
  33. 33. A further note on costs... • The Isle of Man’s government spends around £570m a year • The new prison cost £41.7m – over 7% of annual expenditure • The Isle of Man’s prison service is budgeted to spend around £10m each year for the next three years - another 1.75% of annual expenditure
  34. 34. By contrast... • England & Wales spends about 0.4% of its annual expenditure on prisons. • In 2008-9, £2.49bn out of a total £586bn was spent on prisons
  35. 35. The big question? • The Isle of Man experiences just over half the crime and half the violent crime than that on the mainland • So why is the Isle of Man spending proportionately more than four times as much than England & Wales on prison?
  36. 36. More big questions? • The average prison population on the Isle of Man has increased by 43.8% since 2006 • Why has this happened when last year the Chief Constable reported that recorded crime had fallen by 35% since 2006? • Crime fell by 10.5% in 2008 on the previous year. So why has the prison population hit further record levels since the new prison opened in 2009?
  37. 37. A word of warning...
  38. 38. No jurisdiction has ever built its way out of overcrowding
  39. 39. A vision for change Less crime, safer communities, fewer people in prison
  40. 40. There is growing concern at ever- increasing prison populations • In 2007 the Scottish government set up an independent Prisons Commission to look at the purpose and impact of imprisonment in Scotland • The Commission’s final report, Scotland’s Choice, was published in 2008 and made 23 recommendations • Scotland now taking steps to reduce its prison population, including a presumption against sentences of six months or less
  41. 41. Meanwhile, in England...
  42. 42. Canada: a success story?
  43. 43. Spending cuts... • In 1993 the new Liberal government faced the need to reduce a $42bn deficit • As part of a strategy to reduce public spending by 20%, the government sought to reduce its spending on prison
  44. 44. ...meant prison cuts • Between 1995 and 2004, the Canadian prison population was reduced by 11% - lowering their rate of imprisonment from 131 per 100,000 to 108 per 100,000
  45. 45. How did the Canadians do it? • Inserted a ‘restraint principle’ into their criminal code • Introduced conditional sentences served in the community • Developed restorative justice programmes • Speeded up the parole process
  46. 46. What happened to the crime rate in Canada? • Crimes rates in Canada are at their lowest for 25 years • Between 1991 and 1999 there were drops ranging from 23% in assault and robbery to 43% for homicide • The magic formula: less crime, safer communities, fewer people in prison
  47. 47. Potential reform for the Isle of Man • Introduce the principle that custody should be used only as a last resort, when there are no reasonable alternatives available • Introduce a presumption in favour of bail and Custody Time Limits for remand prisoners • Replace short prison sentences of six months or less with community-based responses and fund the probation service appropriately
  48. 48. Finally...the ‘community-facing’ prison • Of the 111 prisoners in the Isle of Man prison on Friday, 15 are not due for release until 2012 and one not until 2018 (barring parole) • But these prisoners, like all the others, will be released and all will return to the community • Resettlement is everyone’s responsibility
  49. 49. Thank you www.howardleague.org