Friday, 17 October 2014

Governor at Europe’s largest prison: ‘Big prisons don’t work’

An urgent rethink of the size and type of prison planned for Wrecsam is needed, according to Plaid Cymru.

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam, said: “If this prison is built to current plans, it would be the second largest one in Europe.
 “So it’s interesting to hear that the governor of the largest one – just outside Paris – believes that small prisons are the way forward.
 “Fleury-Merogis prison near Paris was built in the 1960s and houses 3,800 inmates, divided into male, female and youth offenders. The 2,500 adult male section of the jail make it bigger than any single UK prison.
“The Governor Joaquim Pueyo said that, if UK Government officials were to ask him what the ideal size of a prison should be, he’s say 600.
“This is the size of new prisons the French are now building to cope with their own overcrowding issues. So why on earth are we repeating mistakes made by the French back in the 60s and ignoring the views of experts who say prisons of this size don’t work?”

Ms Harper said there was a logic to having a smaller scale prison to serve the needs of North Wales:

“There are lots of reasons to re-think this scheme before it’s too late. The council’s decision last week to defer planning permission gives us a window of opportunity.
  “A smaller prison built for the needs of North Wales would allow women and youth offenders as well as adult males to stay in the region rather than being moved away to prison, with all the resulting extra cost and problems for visiting family.
 “It would also reduce the impact 2,100 adult male  inmates would have on local services such as the NHS, police and housing.
“Plaid Cymru is totally opposed to any prison being privately run by a company such as G4S, which has been proved to falsify records in terms of tagging criminals.
“Our other concerns are that when the government talks of ‘local jobs’ and ‘local firms’ getting contracts, it actually refers to anyone within 50 miles of Wrecsam – that includes Liverpool and Manchester. I’m very concerned to ensure that Wrexham sees the full benefit of any work and contracts otherwise we’ll end up with all the problems and none of the benefits.”

·        Long-term critic of the super prison Robert Jones and Elfyn Llwyd MP, who has visited similar prisons in Texas, will be the guest speakers at a public meeting entitled “Wrexham Prison – pros and cons” to be held at Saith Seren, 18 Chester St, Wrexham, LL13 8BG on Thursday, November 20th. Entrance is free and everyone is welcome.

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