The Power Inside
The Power Inside: The Role of Prison Councils, a report published by User Voice, argues that prisoners should be given more power to influence how prisons operate and to improve the UK’s record on rehabilitation. It shows that doing so can reduce complaints, segregation and encourage civic participation on release.
In the wake of the Justice Minister, Kenneth Clarke’s call for new thinking about prisons and rehabilitation, it argues for the expansion of a new model of prison councils as part of the government’s ‘rehabilitation revolution’.
User Voice Prison Councils are established through an electoral process where prisoners form parties, each representing common challenges. For example, one party will focus on proposals or strengthening and improving the relationships between prisoners and with staff, while another will advocate proposals to improve prisoners’ preparation for employment and resettlement on release.
Ex-offenders employed by User Voice work with prisoners on campaigns and in canvassing the opinions of staff and other prisoners. Each party presents a manifesto and on ‘Election Day’, votes are cast for one of the parties, not for individual candidates.
User Voice has piloted its model in HMPs Albany, Parkhurst and Camp Hill on the Isle of Wight. Here, elected representatives of prisoners meet regularly with prison management to discuss ways of improving the way prisons are run.