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Chris Grayling MP: No more Sky subscriptions. No more 18 certificate DVDs. Why I'm launching today's tougher prison regime.

Grayling Chris SquareChris Grayling is the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

The Conservative Party is the party of law and order, or it is nothing at all. The public have always known that Conservatives will take their protection most seriously, and that belief should never be allowed to wither.

But we are no longer simply the Party of hanging and flogging. The world has moved on. Today’s Conservatives must find the right balance between punishment and rehabilitation. Punishment, because crime should have consequences. Rehabilitation. because reoffending destroys lives - and the cycle of people rotating round and round our criminal justice system costs a fortune and leaves far too many victims.

Whether you are the hardest hardliner on crime, or the woolliest liberal, we all have an interest in effective rehabilitation. That’s why we are pressing ahead with the biggest reforms to our probation system in a generation, and why we are looking at new ways of detaining teenage criminals to improve their skills and education.

But we need to act in our prisons too. In too many ways, the regime in our prisons has become too lax. Rewards are given for simply being passive, not for self-improvement. Perks are available that many on the outside cannot afford – or which are wholly inappropriate in a prison. All of that has to change.

Today, we launch the biggest set of changes to our prison regime in decades. From now on, rewards will be linked to a prisoner’s efforts to turn their life around, and those who refuse to co-operate will face a tougher and more Spartan regime. Convicted prisoners who arrive in prison will now automatically wear prison clothes. It amazes me that this wasn’t always the case. They will only earn back the right to wear their own clothes if they have engaged in and are actively pursuing rehabilitation .

Those who refuse will not only continue in prison clothes, but will lose the televisions in their cells as well. We will change the rules so that those who damage their cells or other prison facilities will have to contribute to the cost of repairs. The money they earn in prison will also be closely linked to rehabilitation. Those who do not engage will have less to spend on personal items from the prison shop or on phone calls.

The prison day will change, with prisoners getting up in the morning, spending more time doing useful activities, and will be returned to their cells and locked up earlier in the evening. There will be less time for casual association with other prisoners. And the frills of prison will go too. There will be no more Sky subscription television. There will be no more 18 certificate DVDs. They should never have been allowed in the first place, given the violence issue. Prison should do two things. It should punish. And it should rehabilitate. It should be humane. And there should be some leisure. But the regime needs to remember why people are there in the first place. With these changes it will. 


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