Well as the title of this blog post suggests I just wanted to ask the question “what is the cost of prison”
This question has multiple answers I’m sure you’ll agree but lets start with the most astonishing. To process an new prisoner it costs around £119,000 in the first year (yep that’s ONE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN THOUNSAND POUNDS!) and on going in England and wales its around £38,000 per year.
Lets take a second to put this into perspective as of today 08/01/2014 it costs £5000 less to send someone to Eton Collage (where they are arguably supposed to gain the best British education)
So what is the British tax payer getting for their £38,000 per year!
Is it lower reoffending rates?
In fact the re-offending rates in the last decade have stayed pretty similar however they are now on the increase.
Is it better education within the prison system to try and rehabilitate prisoners so they have the ability to compete within the jobs market for work placements to reduce unemployment, and allow ex-offenders the chance to turn their lives around with a steady income and the stability a full time job brings?
IN_IT the book was written about the shambles that is the education provided within an OPEN prison where a capable inmate who wanted to help teach others to read (yep just to read not the workings of astrophysics) was shot down (calm down not literally we’re not at that stage yet in Briton) and not allowed to help others.
Take a look IN_IT the book
So what is it you ask?
Well so do I!
According to evidence it is suggested that staff pay is around 80% of the prisons running costs so lets do the math
if there are 336 prisoners in one prison all charged to the UK government at £38000 that’s £12,768,000.00 (12.7 million) 80% of this is £10,214,400 (10.2 million) now if there are say 175 members of staff that equates to (if shared equally) an average of £58000 each! is this the salary of a prison officer? and I think that my hypothetical prison has been very generous to the staffing levels (allowing one member of staff to nearly every two prisoners) If this is the salary then I’m sure the incentive to maintain a steady flow of prisoners is jumping out of the page at you!
I believe prisons only seem to now exist in the UK to satisfy the profit margins of big business where they are cutting back everywhere they can and sacrificing not only prison staff safety but also the prisoners safety themselves. And all this talk about wanting to help reduce reoffending is just a load of nonsense if prisons wanted to reduce re-offending they could do so by actively helping prisoners to educate themselves and increase their contact with their families! Its absurd that the prisons will “promote” the importance of maintaining family ties yet make phone calls so unaffordable that its an impossibility for prisoners to do so if all calls for the prisoners were free (a service we offered however have come up against the NOMS brick wall and a blanket block has been put into place, We can still reduce the cost of a prisoners phone call to a loved ones mobile phone by up to 75% but are terribly saddened that NOMS have taken this step to prevent the family member covering the entire cost of the call, which I may add they do anyway by sending in “spends” for the prisoners to use on extortionate PINS phone credit!) then the prison would be actively helping the prisoner to rehabilitate by maintaining family ties and not just trying to squeeze every last penny out of them…..I mean come on isn’t the £38,000 a year enough!
So to reduce spending the MOJ decided to outsource some of the prisons to private company’s who charge around £13,000 per year per prisoner (a more reasonable sum you would think) however obviously not as the cost of prison is not just financial the recent problems I’m sure you are all aware of at HMP Oakwood is just a perfect example of underpaid staff not able to control or manage the environment in which they are forced to work.
Now there must be a balance, a financial figure that can sit in the middle of all of this but before we can get that we need to really start rehabilitating prisoners to stop re-offending we want to be able to close prisons as this would mean we have less people needing to reside in them thus less crime and a better Britain however where would all the prison staff and Governors go if we did truly try to help prisoners turn their lives around??? perhaps best to say the right words about rehabilitation but keep prisoners uneducated and release them into broken homes or they may well be out of a job!
You could argue that the company I work for would also be out of business if prisons were no longer needed as in this eutopia I have created prisoners were treated as people and helped turn their lives around. I would agree! but I’m sure I speak for all the people involved with www.prisonphone.co.uk when I say we would gladly close down tomorrow should our service no longer be needed because we are in the uniquely wired situation where it would be a happy ending if we could close the doors at prison phone knowing the MOJ are truly helping to keep prisoners and families connected and not profiteering from there captive customer base.
These are just my own thoughts and I’m no one of importance just someone with a passion to help make sure the life of a prisoners child still includes their mother or father in their everyday life and that the prisoner does not turn into a complete stranger to his/her child.
Please feel free to share and to comment below to express your views
thanks for reading and stay safe
x Claire x