Policy Recommendations Building Facilities

Introduction

The prison environment in developed countries is becoming an issue for many governments because of the increases crime rates and shortage of space and staff to work in these prisons. In this case, prisons in the United Kingdom face major challenges even in recent times when the prison staff in England and Wales walked out to show solidarity against the deteriorating conditions in the prisons. With at least 85,000 people being jailed in UK prisons, the number is exceeding the expectations and the capacity that was initially targeted by the government. Various scholars suggest that reducing the number of prisoners is the solution while others deny this fact because crime rates will increase across the UK. This paper explains the best policy recommendation for this problem which is building new cell blocks and facilities across the UK so that inmates and prison workers can have a safe and conducive environment to work and live in.

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Research and Theory

The prison environment is as important as other working environments because the prison workers and inmates themselves are still human and humanity must be respected. According to Bulman, the prison environment in the UK has no place in the 21st century because of the continued failure by the government to come up with a solution to improve the prison environment. (Bulman, 2018). The Chief Inspector in the UK has constantly put forward this issue to the House of Commons where they are supposed to deliberate on this issue so as to come up with policies and strategies to improve the prison environment. O’Hara’s report indicates that prison workers had walked out in action deemed to be meant to address their grievances which have reached the tipping point. (O’Hara, 2018).

A report from the House of Commons regarding the pressing issue in the UK has projected that the number of prisoners will increase by 2020 to more than 98,000 prisoners. (House of Commons Justice Committee, 2015). With the current prison facilities, this number will be uncontrollable, and the prison environment will continue deteriorating gradually. The more the prisoners in a defined space in the prison blocks, the more the catastrophes and negativities such as the spread of diseases, murder cases and more workload for the prison guards and administrative workforce. (Stone, 2012). According to McDonald, overcrowding of prisons neglects the international standards of how prisons should be. (McDonald, 2018). In addition, a high number of prisoners in a particular prison make the monitoring process of the correctional officers more rigorous hence health concerns may arise. Since the early 2000s, the UK justice system has witnessed a delay in convict’s registration because there has not been any adequate space to accommodate these wrongdoers.

The report from the House of Commons challenges the reduction of prisons because by doing that the justice system will be seen as incompetent. However, the delays made by the same policy and lawmakers bring in another challenge faced within the prison environment which is over-exploitation of resources. (Alden, 2017). When prisons are overcrowded, prisoners tend to utilize all the resources available including utilities such as water and space hence leave the prison guards and workers at a stressful position where they have to deal with the problems in the best way possible. (Nurse, 2003). Mr. Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons in England, indicates that the deterioration of the prison environment has made the prison workers and guards neglect basic requirements and standards that should be upheld within the prison environment.(Bulman, 2018).

The psychological effects of overcrowding the prisons in the UK is projecting negative outcomes because when a prison holds more than the expected number, prisoners end up mistreating each other. Scholars call for a look into this matter because of the rising diversity in the population of the UK which sends different people with different backgrounds to the same cells. (Phillips, 2012). Most of the prison estate in the UK was built before 1900 meaning that the infrastructure is old and utility providing infrastructure such as pipes and other resources are worn out. Rejecting the proposals put forward by specialists and other interested bodies does not make the environment a teaching tool for the wrongdoers. (Alden, 2017). Whether the environment is well taken of and built by the government will not change the fact that the crime rate is high hence the increase in the number of prisoners.

Policy recommendation

One policy that should be recommended is the building of new cell blocks and supersized prisons that will handle the increasing numbers of prisoners. Research conducted by Travis reported on the Guardian indicate that this is a useful policy recommendation in addressing overcrowding and the prison environment. (Travis, 2017). According to the report, the justice system will build four supersized prisons that will house 1,000 inmates each meaning the scenarios of prison overcrowding will reduce. However, the cost of building these prisons is immense to the government it will cost England and Wales to be specific a total of 1.3 billion Euros to renovate the prison environment and build new prisons in various areas. (Travis, 2017). The House of Commons report recommends that a new-for-old policy should be employed to renovate the old ones while the prisoners are shifted to the new ones. Despite the motive to build new prisons across the UK, various standards must be met in the old prisons such as replacing water pipes, electricity lines, gates, lighting up corridors and walkways while the offices and lavatories should be renovated to maintain hygiene.

The current policy used by the criminal justice system is to relieve the pressure from major prisons across the UK while it introduces more prisoners to the system. This policy cannot work because the output is less compared to the input. However, the criminal justice system is faced with a dilemma on how to convict these individuals considering that the community must also be protected from wrongdoers. (House of Commons Justice Committee, 2015). The UK government as reported by Travis does not know when overcrowding in the prisons will end yet it has plans to improve the prison environment. (Travis, 2017). The four supersized prisons are only a segment of a larger plan to expand prisons and build new ones by 2020. However, time is catching up with the UK because until now the problem has not yet received a direct solution which will help solve the problem as deliberations go on.

The problems associated with this research and critiques from various sources indicate that the society is not included in giving opinions regarding the issue. The government is keen on putting forward its opinions but have no space for society to offer insight on the topic. It is not right for such an issue to lack the public opinion because these criminals live among people in society hence they should be given a chance to offer opinions. (Alden, 2017). Another problem regarding the research employed to arrive at this policy recommendation is the lack of funds to facilitate the building of new prisons and appropriate locations. Prisons cannot be built anywhere as one wishes because experts recommend that prisons should be away from the communities nearby.

The budget to build new prison blocks will cost more than the 1.3 billion Euros because the problem is not diminishing; rather it is increasing. (Travis, 2017). According to statistics, every prisoner who has already been convicted will have to be accounted for so that the final figure can be arrived at. On the other hand, the strengths of this research include the inclusion of prison heads and other government agencies that help understand the issue at hand. In addition, the comparison to other prisons in developed countries such as America which has improved its prison environment by 13% from 2010. (Phillips, 2012). However, this has not been easy for America either because of the costs of renovation and coming up technologies that suit the expectations of prison standards requires a lot of effort from professionals.

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Conclusion

The research above focuses on the prison environment as the chosen area whereby overcrowding arises as a major problem in developed countries especially the UK. According to the research employed, the prison environment risks the health of prisoners, diminishes the work done by prison guards and adds pressure to the criminal justice system. However, one policy recommendation suggested is the building of new prisons across the UK whereby the increasing number of prisoners will be manageable. This policy faces certain challenges such as financial constraints, politics, and lack of public participation. The public is essential while coming up with policies that affect them directly because problem-solving is inclusive of everyone involved. Hygiene of the prisoners and maintaining a cleaning prison environment is essential to prison workers because they offer their skills and abilities to monitor those in prisons across the UK. (Jewkes, 2006). Their grievances should, therefore, be listened to by the government so that future solutions can be arrived at. With the increasing number of prisoners that are processed through the criminal justice system, the UK should have appropriate plans that can counter future problems within the same industry. The rise in prisoners is expected to hit 99,000 by 2020 as seen from the research indicating the future is not promising for the UK government unless it handles the problem immediately.

References

  • Alden, J. (2017). Planning at a national scale: A new planning framework for the UK. In Revival: The Changing Institutional Landscape of Planning (2001) (pp. 67-94). Routledge.
  • Bulman, M. (2018). Prison conditions ‘most disturbing ever seen’ with staff now accustomed to jails not fit for 21st century, watchdog says. Retrieved from:
  • House of Commons Justice Committee. (2015). Prisons: planning and policies. Ninth Report of.
  • Jewkes, Y., & Johnston, H. (Eds.). (2006). Prison readings: A critical introduction to prisons and imprisonment. Cullompton, Devon, UK: Willan.
  • MacDonald, M. (2018). Overcrowding and its impact on prison conditions and health. International journal of prisoner health, 14(2), 65-68.
  • Nurse, J., Woodcock, P., & Ormsby, J. (2003). Influence of environmental factors on mental health within prisons: focus group study. Bmj, 327(7413), 480.
  • O’Hara, M. (2018). It’s no wonder prisons are in crisis. Inmates are humans, too. Retrieved from:
  • Phillips, C. (2012). The multicultural prison: Ethnicity, masculinity, and social relations among prisoners. Oxford University Press.
  • Stone, K., Papadopoulos, I., & Kelly, D. (2012). Establishing hospice care for prison populations: an integrative review assessing the UK and USA perspective. Palliative Medicine, 26(8), 969-978.
  • Travis, A. (2017). Four 'supersized' prisons to be built in England and Wales. Retrieved from:

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