Within the criminal justice system prison population throughout the United Kingdom has been on the increase leading to the introduction of reformed legislation along with diverse governmental approaches. I will analyse in depth issues linked to the expanding population along with changing dynamics of prison life, government and legislation will also coincide with these issues.
When examining a particular topic the most fundamental way of tackling the area of study is answering the question ‘what is the purpose of prisons?’ The three main areas that arise to the surface are three legal functions which are custodial, coercive, and punitive. Though imprisonment was used in medieval times as a punishment it was generally for minor offences. Pugh (1970:1105)
In England and Wales the incarceration rate is the highest in Western Europe with around 80,000 persons in prison in England and Wales 7000 in Scotland and 1,300 in Northern Ireland. During the 1980s prison population peaked at around 50,000 between 1988-89 then declined to around 45,000 during 1990-93 it then rose drastically to 62,000 by the time of the 1997 General Election which saw the emergence of Labour and the Third way following a reactive turnaround by conservative party and statement delivered by then Home secretary that ‘prisons work’. Morgan & Liebling (2007:1101)
The introduction of the Murder Act (1965) abolished the death penalty in the United Kingdom and replaced it with a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. This would further reinforce the concept of contributing to an increased strain on the prison population as more individuals will occupy prisons. My analysis on this topic is the abolishment of the death sentence will require additional funding directed into the prison service.
At the end of 2005 33 of 142 prisons were crowded above the certified capacity by 30% or more. The taxpayer pays around £26,412 per prisoner per annum or £508... [continues]
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