'No bars and prisoners called residents': Nick Ferrari blasts Raab over soft prisons

4 March 2022, 08:45 | Updated: 4 March 2022, 09:48

Nick grills Justice Secretary on new smart prisons

By Daisy Stephens

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab faced tough questions this morning over new 'smart' prisons that offer offenders pet therapy, have no bars on the windows, and refer to prisoners as 'residents'.

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Speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Mr Raab said the new prisons - where prisoners would be known by their first names - would bring down reoffending by making integration into the community easier - and argued he still believed in tough punishment.

But Nick argued: "Tough on law and order?

"Building a prison that will hold violent offenders and murderers who will be called by their first name, they'll be allowed pet therapy, and their children come round to help do their homework.

"That's the Conservative party being tough on law and order, Mr Raab?"

Mr Raab said people given life sentences would not be put in the prisons, but did not deny murders not given life in jail could end up there.

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"A convicted murderer will be given pet therapy, ability to help their children with homework, be called by their first name, and be able to look out the window?" Said Nick.

"Wow. I'd hate to be soft on crime."

In response, Mr Raab said: "What you're looking at is offenders who at some point are going to be released, making sure they're off drugs, can get into work, have got the family ties that create a settled pathway into the community.

"The vast majority of offenders in prison end up released at some point.

"We can't lock them all up. In which case, as well as tough punishment and no one believes in that more than me... we need to create a pathway into society so when these people come back into our communities they're less likely, not more likely, to commit crime.

"That's the robust, clear-sighted way we protect the public."

No bars on the windows of new prisons? Explain please Mr Raab

Mr Raab said the new prisons would work with "our big emphasis on punishment and stronger sentencing" to bring down reoffending.

"We also know that most offenders are released into society and what this state-of-the-art prison has... it has a drug recovery wing... it's got in-cell technology which can improve their numeracy and literacy, so you don't have offenders sitting in their jail cell with their feet up on a bunk, but they're actually trying to better themselves," he said.

"It had a bike workshop, it's got a fork lift truck training shop, a recycling workshop.

"Why? Because we know if we get officers into work they're much less likely to reoffend."

He also added that those connected with their family are also less likely to go on to commit another crime - hence the "family area" to allow prisoners to retain ties with their relatives, particularly children.

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