MORE than 57,000 days of additional imprisonment – a total of more than 156 years – were imposed on prisoners for breaking prison rules in the West Midlands in 2017 according to research by the Howard League for Penal Reform.
Of these, 2,496 were imposed at HMP Hewell, which lies near Tardebigge between Bromsgrove and Redditch, up by 276 on the previous year.
The charity’s report, ‘The rising tide: Additional days for rule-breaking in prison’, reveals how the disciplinary system in prisons has become unsustainable, with the number of additional days handed down in West Midlands jails rising by 33 per cent in 12 months – from 42,756 in 2016 to 57,032 in 2017.
The Howard League says this follows a nationwide trend as prisons, brought to breaking point by overcrowding and staff shortages, have increasingly resorted to draconian measures.
This has coincided with rising levels of self-injury behind bars.
Across England and Wales, the number of additional days handed down has more than doubled in three years – from fewer than 160,000 in 2014 to almost 360,000 in 2017.
It says additional days, which are largely imposed for non-violent breaking of rules, contribute to the deterioration of the prison system by exacerbating overcrowding and producing a sense of unfairness among prisoners.
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 turn leads to more drug abuse and violence.
“Scrapping the imposition of additional days would make prisons safer, fairer and less likely to churn out people who go on to re-offend. It has worked in Scotland and, with the right approach, it would work here, too.”
Hewell is the region’s third largest prison, with 1,132 inmates.