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"Prison overcrowding in Bedford a stain on John Howard's name" says Henry Vann

August 8, 2008 11:54 AM

Bedford Prison is the eleventh most overcrowded prison in the country according to a report by the Prison Reform Trust.

The report also added that Bedford is one of only 16 prisons nationally that are over operational capacity.

The report shows that 145 police and court cells were pressed into use to house overspill prisoners.

Overcrowded jails are not working to prevent re-offending. Prison conditions are deteriorating and prisons are often short-staffed with prison officers having to put in over time.

In a process officials refer to as 'the churn' people are being moved from one overcrowded prison to another damaging work on rehabilitation and resettlement.

Henry Vann, parliamentary campaigner said:

"I have visited Bedford Prison and I also spoke to prison officers from Bedford Prison when recently visiting the Prison training college at Newbold Revel - the officers do a fantastic and very difficult job, something this government is not making any easier.

"In Bedford, we should look to John Howard, a legendary prison reform campaigner, and former High Sheriff of Bedford, after whom the Howard League for Penal Reform is named.

"As the Prison Reform Trust say, for people serving short sentences for petty crimes reconviction rates rise sharply - to solve this crisis the arms race of more prison places between the confused Conservatives and failing Labour parties simply isn't the answer.

"We need a break with past failures and a new approach that restricts prison sentences to those who really have to be there and uses more effective measures such as restorative justice and mental health treatment for those who do not."