A new policy to be implemented in all prisons and young offender institutions will come into force on the 1st November 2013 and give those in charge, power to take money directly from prisoners’ accounts if they are found responsible for causing damage to prisons and prison property.
Previously, prisoners would not have to make any contribution to any repair which in some cases can prove to be quite costly.
The new policy now means money earned by prisoners and also money sent into the prisoners’ accounts by family can be accessed to pay for the damage caused if an order is made by an adjudicator following a finding of guilty.
However, there has been some criticism of the new policy in terms of vulnerable prisoners who may have caused damage to the cell as a result of self harm.
Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, calls for careful implementation of the new policy stating:
“A great deal of damage is done in cells by vulnerable people in acts of self-harm or suicide attempts so it would not be appropriate to fine them as it might lead to more distress, and further self-harm.”
Footing the Bill
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
“It is clearly not right that prisoners can willfully cause damage in prisons and not be held financially accountable.
“For too long the hard-working taxpayer has had to foot the bill for offenders’ malicious acts, and this cannot continue.
“From now on, if you willfully break it, you will pay for it.”
The debts will only be in force until that prisoners release or up to a maximum of two years and there are doubts this scheme would recover enough to cover the costs of the damage in that timescale given the low income prisoners receive.