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Living wage for prison inmates among recommended reforms

Published 14/09/2015

Introducing the living wage in prisons is one of the reforms recommended by a criminologist
Introducing the living wage in prisons is one of the reforms recommended by a criminologist

Prisoners should be paid a living wage for the work they do in jail, a leading criminologist has said.

Professor David Wilson said paying inmates will prevent reoffending and make prisoners feel they are "part of civil society".

The Birmingham City University academic and former prison governor suggested the idea in an article which included 10 reforms he felt could improve the prison service.

The Living Wage means all workers must earn at least £7.20 an hour from next April, rising to £9 in 2020.

Prisoners are currently not subject to the national minimum wage, which stands at £6.50 for those over 21.

He said: "At the very least, this keeps them as part of civil society and encourages them to save for their eventual release."

Other suggestions included having smaller prisons, placing more emphasis on education, and scrapping the "outdated" A-D security classifications for prisons, which was introduced in 1966.

He said: "This type of classification might have been fit for purpose when England won the World Cup and the Beatles topped the charts, but now merely serves to confuse staff about how best way to manage prisoners.

"People are sent to prison as a punishment, not for punishment, and giving them literacy, numeracy and work skills reduces their likelihood of committing further offences after they have been released."

The Ministry of Justice said the minimum amount prisoners are paid is £2.50 a week if they do not work and at least £4 a week if they do.

The rate of pay for prisoners who are long-term sick or retired is £3.25 a week.

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