There is no doubt that living in a prison is the biggest punishment for anyone.
We’re under no illusion that prison is anything other than a form of punishment for criminals. A place to give you time to reform, think about your criminal past and ideally come out a better person.
Prisoners at HMP Berwyn in Wrexham have been allowed to lock and unlock their own cells and the guards are required to knock before entering the cells in Britain’s biggest jail, according to reports.
Berwyn prison, the biggest jail in England and Wales, has introduced the changes in order to give the inmates more privacy so that they can freely enter, leave and lock themselves into their cells during the day.
Officers can override the freedom granted to prisoners through a dual lock system, which means inmates cannot leave their cells during the night. A prison official said the “knock first” policy was part of creating a respectful environment but was overruled for searches and incidents.
The “knock first” policy is reportedly aimed at creating a respectful environment for prisoners, however, officers can still enter cells without knocking for emergencies and searches. The £250 million prisons, in its approach to creating a more domestic environment, has renamed cells and rooms and prisoners are referred to as “men,” The Daily Telegraph reported.
The inmates in the prison are reportedly provided with laptops, and blocks and are now called “communities.” The prison holds category C offenders, who are “unlikely to try to escape” but cannot be trusted in an open prison.
The Royal Institute of British Architects and the Ministry of Justice laid out the prison’s new approach in a report titled Wellbeing in Prison Design, which looks at the design and operation of six new prisons to be built across the UK.
The Berwyn prison takes from a Scandinavian prison policy, which is of the view that taking away an offender’s liberty is punishment enough without them having to deal with harsh conditions.
“Being given the possibility to personalize their own environments has a wide range of benefits for the health and well-being of people in custody, helping to create a sense of place and identity. Allowing men in custody to control atmospheric conditions like opening windows or ventilators, controlling heating… can alleviate negative well-being impacts of poor atmospheric conditions and generate a sense of self-efficacy,” the report states.
“Observational evidence from Berwyn supports the concept that giving people in custody control over their spaces also results in them taking care of and respecting their space,” it adds.
The director of the Victims’ Rights Campaign, Harry Fletcher, however, was not very pleased with the approach adopted by the prison. It’s right that prisoners should be treated with dignity but giving them their own keys and knocking gives inmates who are devious the opportunity to hide illicit contraband, phones or drugs,” he said.
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