11 June 2019
Prisons manage inmate behaviour by giving and withdrawing privileges like watching a DVD or practicing an instrument but this practice can be harmful. People with intellectual disabilities are overrepresented in prisons and struggle with the rigid system of prison life, causing regular breaches to rules and loss of privileges. They already suffer more in prison because they are targets for bullies and it is unclear whether the privileges system has any behavioural benefits for them. Some correctional centres withdraw family visits as punishment, including women’s and juvenile centres, which is particularly destructive for children, including the children of inmates, increasing their risks of being put into state care and offending in the future.
The courts recently ruled that if an inmate’s behaviour is punished through a privilege withdrawal, it cannot be punished further, even for a criminal offence. In Parliament, the government introduced new laws to ensure the privilege withdrawal system can operate without interfering with criminal proceedings and during debate I called for a review of the whole system to protect vulnerable inmates and their families. My speech: HERE