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The research is aimed at highlighting the evolution of the public services and its development overtime. The role of the public services in relation to the support the vulnerable groups of the society that are the prisoners. The Assignment is aimed at comparing the Contemporary Prison system with the Prison system of the Victorian Era. The principles of Transportation Penalizing, separate and silent systems are to be discussed and how do such system impact the prison system of today’s world. The project shall discuss the impacts of austerity on prisons and prisoners. The structure and regime of the system is to be compared as per the Goff man’s total institutions and therefore review the future strategies to improve the living conditions of the prison group of population.
The Victorian era market the period where the judicial system of Great Britain, sentenced the prisoners to transportation for life in cases they were accused of crimes such as theft. The prisoners were transported upon the seas, beyond the seas, to such a place as deemed fit by the then Majesty for the natural term of the lives of the prisoners to the British penal colonies (Victorianweb.org, 2017). The costs that were incurred in incarceration of prisoners were higher than the costs of transporting them to Australia, as the Government had to cover only the costs of the journey and it avoided the necessity of public hanging. The conditions in the vessels were poorly hygienic and therefore, leading to outbreak of diseases such as typhoid and Cholera (Victorianweb.org, 2017). The beginning of the year 1654, marked the period of sending convicts to the British colonies set up in America and the practice was legalized and became more relevant after “The Transportation Act, 1717”.
The prisoners who were to be transported usually waited in the built prisons known as “Hulks”, from there they were transferred to ships for journey to America and Australia that would take several months (bbc.co.uk, 2022). The conditions along the way were constricted and a number of prisoners died due to outbreak of diseases. These vessels were ridden with diseases causing the deaths of one third of the convicts on board. The prisoners were often chained by leg irons, in the time of boarding. The prisoners were made to work on buildings or breaking rocks (bbc.co.uk, 2022). The punishments were harsh and the working convicts were whipped for disobeying the rules.
The American war of independence in 1783 marked the end of transporting criminals to America when the country refused to accept criminals. However, the criminal punishment by transportation was abolished and it officially ended in the 1850s, and was replaced by the Servitude Act 1853 (hansard.parliament.uk, 2021). On 9th January 1868, the vessel with 269 convicts was the last ship that was sent to Western Australia. Therefore, the prisoners are not transported across countries and continents presently. The international treaties such as the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners known as the Nelson Mandela Rules, 2015) mandates a safe and humane treatment to the prisoners (the lancet, 2020), although the conditions of the prisoners is not at par with the principles of these treaties and organizations (Nixon, 2022).
The separate and silent Systems
The separate system the prisoners were isolated from each other and they were kept away alone for long period of times, they were made to work on crank machines as per the provisions of the Prison Act of 1839. The chaplains of the prisons tried to encourage the prisoners to live a Christian life that is crime free (bbc.co.uk, 2022). The system was based on the belief that isolation would provide the convicts to reflect upon his crimes and so he would make amends and reforms. The prisoners were made to cover their faces by masks and were forced to remain silent. They were made to walk at a distance of 4.5 meters from the next prisoner (bbc.co.uk, 2022). The convicts were made to monotonous takes such as rolling heavy metal balls in silence, they were even made to sleep on hard beds and eat course meals. The principle of “hard labor, fare and board” failed miserably and the suicide rates increased exponentially (bbc.co.uk, 2022).
Contemporary Forms of Imprisonment
The contemporary forms of imprisonment require the convicts to be punished to serve concurrent or consecutive sentences. There are a number of grounds on which the convicts could be isolated for maintaining good discipline in the contemporary world for protection and safety of the prisoners and others governed by formal procedures in specific supervision units governed under the rules of the administration (penalreform.org, 2018). The NPM’s findings have uncovered the instances of widespread detention to solitary confinement through practices of separation, removal from association, temporary confinement separation, and special cells (Burtt, 2022). Through the close supervision of NPM, it has been found that the isolation centers are cage like with razor like fences. The access to showers, exercise and phones were limited in such cases of isolation (penalreform.org, 2018). There have been reported cases where the convicts are subjected to isolation for longer periods of time fitting in definitions of solitary confinement. These situations of informal isolation are not justified as they have been put to situations of potential harm (penalreform.org, 2018).
Goff man’s total institutions
The types of social institutions that exist as per the Goff man’s Total Institutions consists of mental asylums, Nazi Concentration camps, convents and monasteries. The total institutions are characterized by the bureaucratic control of the human needs of a group of people. The social institutions of the Goff man are defined social institutions as the social arrangements that are to be regulated as per the rational plan that takes place under one roof of an institution (osf.io, 2018). It frères to the living conditions and situations of people under the influence of similar working conditions. The five types of institutions as outlined by the Goff man are inclusive of nursing homes and hospitals that are similar to the vulnerable living conditions of the prisoners. The model can be taken as an example for the contemporary situation of the prisoners that defines the conditions that they have been subjected to (osf.io, 2018).The prisoners form an ideal social group that could be taken into consideration for the purpose of identifying the problems and the challenges faced by such groups of people (osf.io, 2018). The model easily describes the situation that arises from the changes of the social reforms in cases of the prison system. The model is used for reference of the vulnerabilities of the social group that in this case is the prisoners. The data shows that 24% of the children of prison are taken into care compared to 2% of the general population. The children are therefore, devoid of the parental care and support. 29% of the prison population has experienced abuse, 41% have experienced violence, 68% were unemployed 4 weeks before custody and 54% have children under the adult age (osf.io, 2018). The Model is a basis for identification of the challenges faced by the prisoners from the historical as well as the contemporary times of the prison system (osf.io, 2018). The model depicts the developments that have taken place from the historical times. The structure of the prisons in today’s worlds has changed drastically leading to the situation of overcrowding in the prison cells. The overcrowding has led to the depletion and degradation of the hygienic conditions of the institutions that has forced the prisoners to fall to the adversities of suicidal attempts and self hurt. This is an indication of the poor mental health of the prisoners that should be aimed to be improved (osf.io, 2018).
If the convicts are being punished for more than 1 crime, a concurrent sentence would make them to serve sentences for both crimes at the same time. On the other hand, if the consecutive sentences mean that the convicts would serve one sentence after the completion of the previous one. Suspended prison systems is serving the time in the community, such as staying away from a place or doing unpaid labor for paying back to the community (gov.uk, 2022). A determinate prison leads the prisoner to serve a fixed length of time in prison or in community whereas an indeterminate period refers to prison time with no fixed time of serving period for the convict. Life sentences are ordered to persons who are convicted of crimes such as murder, rape or armed robbery (gov.uk, 2022). The comparison between the Contemporary Prison system with the Prison system of the Victorian Era. The principles of Transportation Penalizing, separate and silent systems are to be discussed and how do such system impact the prison system of today’s world. The project shall discuss the impacts of austerity on prisons and prisoners. The convicts are to spend the rest of their lives in prison or in community on license (Barkow,2019). Therefore the structure of the prison system has drastically changed over the years resulting in the development of the human rights of the prisoners on the basis of the vulnerable conditions of life that they suffer, so that the system could improve the conditions of living of the prisoners.
The technical accountability of prison system could be achieved through the statistical data, information and data available about the terminologies and factors indicating the situation of the prisoners (degruyter, 2022). Liberty is lost in closed and confined institutions of the prison system. The various parameters have been taken into account for determining the accountability of the prison system on the prisoners. The Prison Reform Trust (2021) indicates the vulnerability of prisoners by comparing social characteristics to the general population; these characteristics show the difference percentage of effects of these characteristics on prison as well as general population. The data shows that 24% of the children of prison are taken into care compared to 2% of the general population. The children are therefore, devoid of the parental care and support. 29% of the prison population has experienced abuse, 41% have experienced violence, 68% were unemployed 4 weeks before custody and 54% have children under the adult age. The vulnerability of the prisoners could be an indication from the statistics that show, 16% of the convicts show symptoms of psychosis, 25% attempted suicide and 64% were under the influence of drugs. These instances show that the prisoners are suffering from overcrowding of prisons and growth in violence (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov , 2020). According to the statistics, inhumane conditions in the prisons add to their miserable situation.
The spending of the Government has however decreased in the eight year period that is from 3.48 billion to 2.71 in a period from 2009 to 2016. The sources of funding of the prison systems are related to the borrowed money. The Government usually borrows money and issue Government securities such as bonds that pay returns in the form of interest to the investors. That is mainly pension funds. The principal amount of such bonds is usually used by the prison system for construction of prisons and meeting other expenditure. The UK Government has spent approximately, 5.63 billion pounds in 2021 that is the highest spending in ten years so far. If the figures are compared from the data of 2021 and 2011, it could be seen than the spending is less by 60 million pounds that is 4.97 billion pounds due to the austerity policies pursued by the coalition Government of the time (statista, 2021). The public money collected through taxes is another source of funding for the Prison system to conduct construction and implement facilities of healthcare and sanitation (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov , 2020).
The measures of austerity dates back to the response of the Government towards the financial crisis of 2008 that raised concerns about the human rights and health conditions of the prisoners. A deflation strategy was implemented by the government in response to the implementation of reforms in the Prison system of England. The research has revealed that austerity has led to shaping the constraining of the prison and the governance of health through the adverse impacts arising from the politics of deterioration, drift, distraction, and denial (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2020). The degradation of the health of the prisoners could relate to the limited access of the prisoners to healthcare resulting in increased incidents of riots, assaults and cases of suicidal attempts and self harm taken up by the prisoners. The microeconomic nature of the crime culture has impacted and created a void in the in the governance of the prison (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2020). The data statics show a steep surge and rise in the cases of medical emergencies and violence in the prison system. The dynamic turnover of the ministers delivering justice and the push that is received regarding the shift towards privatization of prison system has distracted the overall governance (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2020). The ministers are in a state of denial on the increased adversity in the prisons of England.
The UK prisons could be improved overtime from the integration of reforms that would provide the prisoners the basic standards literacy, so that they are equipped to work on release. A “deflation strategy” was implemented by the government in response to the implementation of reforms in the Prison system of England. The research has revealed that austerity has led to shaping the constraining of the prison and the governance of health through the adverse impacts on health, safety and mental health. The “New prison strategy” that is taken up the Government is to be reviewed. The new strategy develops and integrates advanced technology to detect any smuggling items that could lead to addiction in the prisoners. Literacy reforms are to be implemented for the equipping them with basic knowledge and expertise to find jobs after release (gov.uk, 2022). The new jails are determined to provide education to all the prisoners to make them independent to support their lives after release. The proposal of the biggest prison building facility is aimed to tackle the increased problem of accommodation and overflow of prisoners with adequate health conditions and maintenance of hygiene (gov.uk, 2022).
A zero tolerance approach will be followed while dealing with the situations of drugs with implementing cutting edge body scanners and standards influenced by the security checks at airports (gov.uk, 2022). The prisoners are to be treated in rehabilitation centers to support them through the process of recovery. Basic standards of literacy are to be ensured among the prisoners to equip them with vocational skills and activities. New and fast tracked punishments would ensure to bring a speedy disposal of cases. The government has allocated another 550 million pounds to achieve the objectives of the new strategy (gov.uk, 2022). Recruitment of additional workers is planned by the government as workers form a great part for the ensuring success of any plans. The new strategy aims at providing more freedom and autonomy to the run the jails in their jurisdiction by following their control systems (gov.uk, 2022).
Impact of historical practices on contemporary versions
The historical and traditional practices that were prevalent in the historical period have an effect on the contemporary practices and policies of the prison System. It could be seen from the statistical data and the qualitative analysis that the conditions in the prison systems fog up continues to be degrading and inhumane. The overcrowding of prisoners remains a problem and challenges in today’s world as well. The prisoners, as per the data released by the Ministry of Justice, the current prison population exceeds that level by 2,751. This is a challenge that was faced in the historical times as well when the prisoners were transported to colonies. As the prisons are overcrowded, the health and living conditions of the prisoners are degraded. In the historical times, where the prisoners fall to the unhygienic conditions of health, in the recent times, they have fell into the risks of mental as well as poor health conditions. The historical as well as the contemporary times have witnessed rates of homicides among the prisoners. The NPM’s findings have uncovered the instances of widespread detention to solitary confinement through practices of separation, removal from association, temporary confinement separation, special cells that is very much similar to the historical practice of separate and silent systems followed in the Victorian era.
The conclusions that could be drawn from the assignment are that the prison system of UK has a number of drawbacks that are to be improved. The assignment reflects that the public services have evolved to a huge level from the historical times. The treatments that are offered to the prisoners have reasonably improved overtime through the passing of reforms, Acts in supporting the vulnerability of the prisoners. The findings have suggested that the prisoners have been exposed to the risks of Covid-19 due to poor living conditions, greater confinement has led to an increase in the cases of self harm and violence cases. Thirdly, the conservatism of the government has led to subject the prisoners to a greater life sentence thus, expanding the population of the prison. The measures of Preventive imprisonment and continuous spending by the Government could enhance the financial accountability of the Government that could be a significant step in mitigation of the effects and impacts of austerity. Thus, the assignment provides a deep insight to the level of evolved reforms and the impacts that it has on the living conditions of the Prison population.
Barkow, R.E., 2019. Prisoners of Politics. In Prisoners of Politics. Harvard University Press.
Burtt, E., 2022. Progression and parole: The perceived institutional consequences of maintaining innocence in prison in England and Wales. Criminology & Criminal Justice, p.17488958221098887.
Nixon, S., 2022. Surviving the Landings: An Autoethnographic Account of Being a Gay Female Prison Officer (in an Adult Male Prison in England). Women & Criminal Justice, 32(1-2), pp.111-130.
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statista, 2021. “Public sector expenditure on prisons in the United Kingdom from 2009/10 to 2020/21 “ Available at https://www.statista.com/statistics/298654/united-kingdom-uk-public-sector-expenditure-prisons/ (Accessed on 22nd July, 2022)
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gov.uk , 2022. “New prison strategy to rehabilitate offenders and cut crime “ Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-prison-strategy-to-rehabilitate-offenders-and-cut-crime (Accessed on 22nd July, 2022)
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