Scary facts of life in overcrowded, violent and rat-filled Pentonville
06 September, 2019
• PENTONVILLE Prison was built 177 years ago with capacity to accommodate 694 persons but is currently hosting 1,080. Last week, again, shocking neglect and violence was exposed at this institution in the heart of Islington (Shock increase in violence at Islington jail, August 30).
Consider the scale of the problem. If the whole of Islington had the same population density as Pentonville, the population would be more than 750,000 (now 220,000), and every house in Islington would have to accommodate nearly four times as many persons.
If Islington was like Pentonville, it would mean that 250,000 (30 times more than now) of Islington’s 750,000 inhabitants would be active drug (ab)users.
If Islington was like Pentonville, there would each year be at least 250 (35 times more) murders and 1,500 (20 times more) suicides in Islington.
If Islington was like Pentonville, there would be no children. There would be no privacy. You would not always be able to go to the bathroom without another person watching. Rats and cockroaches would be a common sight.
If Islington was like Pentonville, two-thirds of the population, or 500,000 people (as much as 114 times more than now), would report that they feel unsafe.
Scary? It gets worse. In the last 10 years the government has taken away a third of prison staff and nearly half of the staff in probation services. And yet, the government officially states that there actually is room for even more prisoners in Pentonville.
The violence in Pentonville is shocking, but not a surprise. Yes, prisons may have a role in a functioning criminal justice system, but prisons are places, hidden from view, where people are most likely to exit from (average custodial sentences are around two years) with deteriorated mental health and further reduced chances in society.
Expanding prisons and stricter sentencing is a bankrupt policy the Conservatives, as well as Labour, continue to be guilty of. Electioneering promises amount to nothing more than wasting money and, above all, wasting away lives.
The Green Party continues to strongly advocate that the current prison system is merely a costly burden on society.
It does not ensure reparation to the victim or the community, nor does it persuade and enable the offender to become a law-abiding member of the community. Reform, including a drastic reduction of the prison population, is urgently required.
Islington Green Party