October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers
The Howard League for Penal Reform has welcomed the plans to turn prisoners into taxpayers by introducing real work to prisons. The charity has campaigned for this radical change for more than ten years, starting with the first research into prison workshops and running a prototype business inside Coldingley for three years.
Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform said:
"We welcome this radical shift from the coalition government that will turn prisoners into tax payers. Bringing real work into prisons is the most important reform to the prison system in two centuries. Prisoners must pay tax which is the best way to support victims, families and for the first time, be asked to contribute to the common good. We must get prisoners to take responsibility for their actions and work is the best way to achieve this.
"There are real challenges ahead, but the Howard League's experience of being the only organisation ever to have run a business inside a prison will be invaluable. It is essential that prisoners are paid the rate for the job so that the prison industries do not undercut local businesses - prison work must be competitive. Why not bring back the outsourced industries currently being sent abroad?
"Everyone will gain from this new policy. It will enable prisoners (overwhelmingly men) to contribute to families so that we could reduce the benefits bill and this will help to keep families together. It could reduce prison costs as prisoners can pay for the luxuries just like the rest of us have to.
"Prisoners must take responsibility for their actions and the Howard League asked its prisoners employed in the pioneering graphic design studio in Coldingley prison to make voluntary donations to victims charities.
"Staff will benefit in safer prisons as violence and conflict is reduced. I particularly welcome the secretary of state's call for a 40 hour working week which means that prisons will be busy and productive places for the first time in history.
"This will have a phenomenal impact in reducing reoffending. There will be less crime on release and will dramatically improve safety for the public..
"This could be the biggest change to the prison system in 200 years and Kenneth Clarke should go down in history as the greatest penal reformer after John Howard."