A new government effort to improve prisoner rehabilitation and to halt the smuggling of illegal mobile phones has been launched. David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, is announcing plans to spend around £7 million on installing telephones in prisoners’ cells in more English and Welsh jails.

The in-cell telephones have already been successfully installed in 20 prisons and now the government is planning to extend the plan to 20 more prisons within the next two years.

Queuing for phones is a major problem

In most prisons, prisoners have to queue for the public phones.

Due to delays, this can trigger violence among inmates wanting to speak to their loved ones. There is also a lack of privacy, with everyone behind them in the queue overhearing their calls. It also tends to lead to the smuggling into the prisons of mobile phones for use by prisoners.

While the idea is to place phones in prisoners’ cells, the Ministry of Justice did state that there will be strict security measures over their usage. Prisoners will only be able to call a selection of pre-approved phone numbers. All their calls are to be recorded and active monitoring can be put in place should suspicion arise that the telephone service is being used for criminal purposes.

The ministry also stated that prison inmates will continue to pay for their calls.

New move to improve prisoners’ ties with family

Besides cutting out long queues for phones, the addition of phones in prisoners’ cells will improve their ability to preserve their ties with family after being jailed. Officials also see this as being a key factor in reducing the inmates’ chances of going back to their criminal ways once released.

As reported by Yahoo! News, a report by Lord Farmer last year established that good relationships with relatives are essential in the prison reform plans.

Gauke said in a speech that decency is something that also relates to how they treat the prisoners, consistently and fairly. He spoke of inmates having time and activities outside of their cells, as well as being able to maintain relationships with their families. Gauke said that Lord Farmer had made it clear last year that supportive relationships are essential for prisoners to achieve rehabilitation.

Drug supply gang links cut

As reported by ITV News, Gauke also mentioned that approximately 6,500 prisoners have links with organized crime in both England and Wales. He said it is essential to make it clear to those gangs that this kind of criminality halts at the gates of the prison. Gauke also mentioned that they have identified several of the worst drug supplying offenders inside the prisons and have moved them to other establishments to ensure they are cut off from their market.