30/04/2013

Prisoners' Privileges Shake-Up Announced

The Ministry of Justice has announced a major shake-up to the rights of prisoners to receive privileges, to be introduced before the end of the year.

Under the new rules, prisoners in England and Wales will have to "work towards their own rehabilitation and help others" in order to earn privileges. They will no longer receive them through good behaviour alone.

A review of the existing scheme was ordered by Ministers last year.

Currently, three privilege levels exist for prisoners; Basic, Standard and Enhanced.

A new Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) level, Entry, is being introduced for all prisoners in the first two weeks of sentence.

Privileges will be restricted and uniforms will be compulsory. "Prisoners who do not engage will move to Basic, while those who do will progress to Standard," the Ministry of Justice said.

Convicted prisoners will work a longer day and will not be allowed to watch TV if it is felt they should be engaged in other "purposeful" activities.

Certificate 18 DVDs will be banned, subscription channels will be removed and gym access will depend on engagement with rehabilitation.

More powers will be introduced to recover money from prisoners to pay for damage to prison property.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: "It is not right that some prisoners appear to be spending hours languishing in their cells and watching daytime television while the rest of the country goes out to work.

"For too long, there has been an expectation that privileges are an automatic right, given simply as a reward for staying out of trouble. This cannot continue. Prisoners need to earn privileges, not simply through the avoidance of bad behaviour but also by working, taking part in education or accepting the opportunities to rehabilitate themselves.

"We have reviewed the scheme fully, and I believe it is now something the public can have confidence in. Only by tackling bad behaviour and taking part in education or work programmes as well as addressing any alcohol or drug issues can we cut reoffending."

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said: "This is a big change for the prison system. Prisoners will now have to actively contribute to their own rehabilitation, help others and continue to behave well if they are to earn privileges above the basic level.

"In short, prisoners who refuse to work or engage in their own rehab will not earn privileges until they do. The IEP system should support all this government is seeking to achieve in improving rehabilitation and reducing reoffending."

The IEP scheme will apply to adult male prisoners in both public and private prisons.

(IT/CD)

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