The Ministry of Justice has spent £5.4 million to ensure prisoners can watch digital television on 42 inch plasma screens. A Freedom of Information request has revealed the extent of just some of the excesses of Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s department.
The news has already been criticised by Mark Freeman, Deputy General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association. He said it was “shameful so much money has been wasted on upgrading the television system in prisons”. The priorities of the Ministry of Justice must be questioned. Taxpayers would rather see their cash funding prison places, especially with prison numbers at a record high in England and Wales.
Recently it was revealed that inmates in Wales are to claim that access to Sky Sports 2 and 3 is a human right – a claim that was rebutted by our Campaign Director Emma Boon on BBC Radio Humberside last month. The Ministry of Justice’s budget is coming under greater scrutiny, so excessive spending on entertainment for inmates cannot continue.
Inmates are in prisons because they have committed crimes. Prisons are there to punish criminals, not entertain them. It can’t be right to give prisoners a whole range of channels to watch on a large plasma screen, especially when taxpayers across the country cannot afford such luxuries themselves. While prison must help rehabilitate offenders, it should not be a place to enjoy things that law-abiding people can’t always afford. Digital television on big screens isn’t likely to cut reoffending rates, but it will leave taxpayers with a large, unwelcome bill.