Anti-prison protesters target new Wrexham super jail as first criminals are locked up

Source: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/anti-prison-protesters-target-new-12663986

Opponents claim jails are not working, but crime boss Arfon Jones said ‘acid test’ was if offenders are rehabilitated

Anti-prison protesters turned up outside Wrexham’s new super jail today as it welcomed its first prisoners.

Campaigners pitched up outside HMP Berwyn on Wrexham’s Industrial Estate claiming jails are inappropriate and more should be done to stop people being locked up in the first place.

North Wales Police Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, said the “acid test” was if inmates were rehabilitated after their interment at the £212m penal facility – the largest in the UK.

The governor of the new prison, Russ Trent, has insisted he wants it to be a place were prisoners are offered “future orientation and hope”.

Campaigners arrived with banners saying “Abolish Prisons. Build communities. Self Determination Not State Violence” and “Free People. Not free Labour.”

Emily Hart, who campaigns for Community Action on Prison Expansion, said: “This is a dark day for North Wales. We are prison abolitionists who believe they shouldn’t be here in the first place and the Wrexham prison is the second biggest in Europe.

“Many vulnerable and people with mental health issues are being sent to prison when they should be getting other help, this is not a solution and the evidence shows that people go on to re-offend when they are released.

“More money should be spent on the root causes to stop people going to prison in the first place.”

David Scott, who was also protesting outside the prison today, said: “There has been a huge rise in the number of deaths with 119 prisoners taking their lives during last year. They are not working and are counterproductive.”

Arfon Jones said: “The acid test for this prison is when people are released that they don’t re-offend again.

“The emphasis on this prison is on not being punitive but rehabilitation.

“But we won’t know if that’s working for a while, when people start to be released in a few years time.”

HMP Berwyn will house around 2,100 inmates and employ 1,000 staff.

It was named after the Berwyn range – one of two areas of moorland in Wrexham which forms the most westerly and remote part of the borough.