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I spent two years in jail – I’ve seen first hand how prisoners are failed by overcrowding

With the jail system almost at full capacity, ex-prisoner Christopher Walters says we should be trying to reduce demand for prisons, not build more to meet it

Monday 23 October 2023 10:00 BST
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<p>I served two years in prison, from 2018 to 2019 – first at HMP Wandsworth, and then at HMP Ford</p>

I served two years in prison, from 2018 to 2019 – first at HMP Wandsworth, and then at HMP Ford

With the government’s latest plans to address our prisons crisis – the jailed population is at an all-time high, with as few as 550 spare places left in the system – justice secretary Alex Chalk asks us to believe the unbelievable.

He cites Covid-19 and industrial action as the significant pressures filling up our prisons estate. But even in 2015, 60 per cent of our jails were overcrowded.

Again, Chalk lauds his government’s efforts to return offenders on parole who breach their licence conditions to prison, even if it contributes to overcrowded jails. But it isn’t as if this didn’t happen before – and it’s also indicative of wider failures in the criminal justice system.

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