Prisoners are sentenced to more than captivity in the UK

A prison sentence is the deprivation of someone's freedoms and liberty. But in Britain, it is also a sentence to poorer health and possible early death, says a new report.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Prisoners are sentenced to more than captivity in the UK - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

Standards inside England’s prisons have deteriorated in recent years. In turn, so has the health and care of prisoners.

Government budget cuts and reduced numbers of prison officers have been blamed for the worsening of standards.

While prisoners, some of those on the fringes of civil society, are sometimes seen as deserving of deprivation, they deserve dignity when it comes to healthcare and safety.

Prisoner health is a public health issue that we should all be concerned about. Improved conditions for people in prison improves society overall.

If those who have previously committed crimes have a positive, healthy experience in prison, they are less likely to stay within what a government report calls a "cycle of disadvantage" and become a further threat to the public.

Details from the story:

  • The British government is failing to uphold its duty of care of prisoners, according to a new report on health and care in prison by the Health and Social Care Committee.
  • As a result of staff shortages and overcrowding, prisoners’ access to healthcare and their ability to lead healthy lives is limited.
  • Incidences of violence and self-harm are at a record high in British prisons. Many units have been deemed unsafe.
  • The mortality rate of people in prison is 50% higher than the general population. This, the report says, reflects the poor health of those in contact with the criminal justice system.
  • Chair of the Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, said: "Poor living conditions, diet and restricted access to healthcare and activity are compounding a cycle of deprivation and health inequality. We need assurances from Government that it will urgently address the very serious situation in prisons with a whole systems approach underpinned by sufficient funding and attention to the prison and healthcare workforce."

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