Oct 2011 17

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.

Darren has a BA in Politics from the University of Surrey. He joined the TPA as an intern before being promoted to Policy Analyst. Darren’s research focuses on council spending across English regions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-R-Holgate/634611208 Christopher R Holgate

    As a Conservative I know Ken Clarke is a lefty Liberal and should not be in Governemnt. There is no reason for this. We need a more free market prison system where we pay prisons by the results of how many people don’t committ crime.

    • Dave

      I’m all in favour of payment by results. I therefore look forward to the “more free market system” you describe, in which “we pay prisons by the results of how many people don’t commit crime”.

      However, before we get there, I’d appreciate some clarification of how this system would work. Are we talking about crime committed in prison, crime committed on escape, or crime committed after release?

      What interests me is behaviour after release. So, I shall be interested to hear of the contractors who are interested on the basis of significant penalty for recidivism.

  • Janmcl

    We appear to have the most cushy prison system in the world, but do harsher systems reduce recidivism?
    But as a pensioner, I’m just thinking I’d be better off in jail- no heating bills, tv licence fee, food bills, council tax etc etc., free medical treatment, dental treatment AND I could study and sit exams too!!  OK so who shall I murder? 

  • BQ

    The people responsible for this really should be sacked.  It is outrageous and what should be of concern is that they seem to think it is acceptable to waste money in this fashion.