Prisoners ‘shouldn’t have days added to sentences for breaking jail rules’, says report

Prisons are overcrowded, said the report (Picture: Getty)

Prisoners should no longer had extra days added to their sentences because they break jail rules, a report says.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said the system has become “unsustainable” and that prisons are at breaking point because of staff shortages and overcrowding.

It said an extra 359,000 days were handed down to inmates in England and Wales last year for breaking prison rules, something it called a “catastrophe”.

The figure was an increase of 27% on 2016.

The report said Exeter prison added 8.5 extra days per prisoner last year, compared with 2.3 days at Hull, which is twice the size.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “The explosion in the use of additional days of imprisonment has been a catastrophe for the prison system.

“Rather than solving problems, it has created new ones, piling more pressure on the prison population and worsening overcrowding, which in turns leads to more drug abuse and violence.”

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She said the figures indicate a need for prison reform, including a culture change within English and Welsh jails.

The number of extra days has more than doubled in the past three years – from under to 160,000 in 2014 to almost 360,000 in 2017.

“These figures illustrate the urgent need for reform,” said Ms Crook. “We need to see a culture change in jails, from top to bottom.

“A prison that resorts again and again to further punishment is an unhealthy prison.

Thousands of extra days have been handed down to inmates (Picture: Getty)

“Scrapping the imposition of additional days would make prisons safer, fairer and less likely to churn out people who go on to reoffend in the community.

“It has worked in Scotland and, with the right approach, it would work here, too.”

Meanwhile, prisoners have received more than a million pounds in compensation for lost or damaged property in the last five years, new figures reveal.

Over 13,000 taxpayer-funded payouts have been made since 2013 for items including clothing, trainers, DVD players and hair clippers.

Figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice by the Press Association showed that £1,075,594.80 has been paid out since 2013.