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Professor Azrini Wahidin responds to Ministry of Justice prison improvement proposals

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart has announced that government will invest £10 million to tackle the use of drugs in prison in 10 male prisons. Professor Azrini Wahidin from the University of Warwick Department of Sociology comments:-

  • The majority of the investment - approximately £6 million - has been earmarked for security measures. Are women in prison a ‘correctional afterthought'?
  • Is this investment in security measures to drive down the use of drugs a poor attempt to ‘punish’ drugs out of prison rather than addressing the real problems of addiction? The terrible harms that psychoactive drugs can create for both prisoners and prison officers is well known. The Prisons Minister, Justice Secretary David Gauke and the Minister of Mental Health and Inequalities, Jackie Doyle-Price all agree that there is a relationship between drug use and mental health, the rise of violence and repeat offending.
  • As the UK punishes addiction, investment in drug treatment and rehabilitation has increased in the Nordic Countries such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Does this injection of monies address the crisis the prisons in England and Wales are facing or just further punishe the marginalized ?
  • 50% of prisoners in the UK said that they had no qualifications, 40% needed help with education while in prison, and of these, 21% needed help with basic literacy and numeracy. A key way to reduce re-offending, to support desistence and help integrate ex-offenders back into society is to provide those in prison with skills that will help them address their addiction and the resources to address structural and material inequalities that blight the lives of so many who end up in prisons.

17 August 2108

Read more:

  • Wahidin, A. (2004), Older Women and The Criminal Justice System: Running Out of Time, London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Moore, L., Scraton, P. and Wahidin, A. (2018), Women’s Imprisonment, Decarceration and Case for Abolition: Critical Reflections on Corston.
  • Cowburn, M., Gelsthorpe, L, Wahidin, A and (eds) (2017), Research Ethics in Criminology – Dilemmas, Issues and Solutions.


Sheila Kiggins

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