Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton has said he is “extremely encouraged” by the emphasis that Conservatives are placing on the reform of prisons.
In his conference speech this week David Cameron said prison reform was one of his Government’s key priorities.
He said: “The system is still not working. Half of criminals offend within a year of being released. Nearly half go into prison with no qualifications; many come out with none either.
“And all the problems that may have led them to that life – drug addiction, mental health problems, childhood abuse – remain unchanged.”
Cameron added: “We have got to get away from the sterile lock-em-up or let-em-out debate, and get smart about this. When prisoners are in jail, we have their full attention for months at a time – so let’s treat their problems, educate them, put them to work.”
The Prime Minister said prisons would be a “big area of social reform in the next five years”.
Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, has previously said “we don’t devote nearly enough time to educating” prisoners and giving them the skills they need to succeed on the outside.
Bishop Moth said: “It is extremely encouraging to hear the Prime Minister and Justice Secretary [Michael Gove] placing such a strong emphasis on the need to make our prisons places of rehabilitation, reform and redemption.
“Prisons are an integral part of our criminal justice system, but far too many men and women spend whole days locked in their cells without anywhere near enough access to education, training, chaplaincy, restorative justice programmes or the other opportunities necessary to turn their lives around.
“I am in no doubt about the scale of challenges facing us but am looking forward to working with the government as together we seek to improve our prisons for the common good of all our society,” the bishop said.