December 4 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Closing a Suffolk prison has been branded as “ill-conceived, premature and rushed” by an organisation that monitors life inside for the inmates.
The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) fears the Government’s plans to shut Blundeston could harm the rehabilitation of prisoners and set back years of work with offenders.
The prison, near Lowestoft, is one of three set to close to help save the Ministry of Justice £30m a year.
It has more than 230 staff and capacity for 256 prisoners, mostly from the east of England.
The IMB, which works to safeguard the welfare of prisoners and also of staff, said the cost of closure would be huge, hit the area’s economy, and cause disruption and upheaval to many families.
IMB spokesman Michael Cadman said: “We would say that Blundeston prison has many qualities which make its closure ill-conceived, premature and rushed.
“Report after report, over many years, has highlighted the excellent and unique staff/prisoner relationship which above any other thing works towards the rehabilitation of prisoners; an expressed Government policy and intention.
“However marvellous electronically any new super prison is, we doubt that it would be able to produce such a relationship as the one that Blundeston has built up over many years.
“Prisoners who appreciate the support they get at the prison are unhappy at the closure which de-stabilises their rehabilitation, moves them to another prison and means in some ways they will have to start all over again.
“Their move will inevitably slow down their progress through their sentence and delay release for those needing decisions from the Parole Board.
“Prisoners will remain in prison longer, with an increased cost to the country, all for some short term political expediency, the consequences of which are never properly explained.”
An expensive new electronic key issuing system, had only been fully operational at Blundeston for four weeks, and a new heating system had been fitted to the main wings and new roofs to the workshops in the past three years. Many items of equipment not wanted elsewhere within the prison service would be thrown away.
Mr Cadman said the board firmly believed closure, while sounding good in the short term, would have consequences which will cost more in the long term.