“A lot of the solutions to criminal justice problems don’t lie within prison walls. They are out there in public health, in housing, in social justice, in the relationships between people and in restorative justice,” said Juliet Lyon, PRI’s Secretary-General, kicking off the panel discussion held in celebration of PRI’s 25th anniversary in London last week.
On the panel also seeking to answer the question ‘If prison doesn’t work, what does?’ were:
Vicky Pryce, former Chief Economist at the Home Office and author of Prisonomics, inspired by her own experience in the British penal system, who focused on the costs of the overuse of imprisonment, not only the cost to the individual and their families, but also to governments, citing in particular the cost of loss of opportunity – people not in education and people not in employment.
Olawale Fapohunda, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ekiti state, Nigeria, who outlined the situation in Nigeria – which in the last couple of years has begun a wide-ranging and radical review of its criminal justice system in an effort to tackle in the particular large number of long-term remand prisoners, chronic prison overcrowding, and the 3,000 prisoners on death row.
Rob Allen, criminal justice expert and PRI associate, who concluded the discussion, emphasising the need to develop alternatives to prison for minor offences and also for justice reinvestment – tackling the causes of crime and diverting resources out of the criminal justice system into health, social care and education.
It is also the 10th anniversary of the death of one of PRI’s founding members, Ahmed Othmani, this year. Ahmed was a former Tunisian political prisoner and penal reformer, who with a group of international activists helped to set up PRI in 1989.
Both David Daubney, PRI Chair, and our Executive Director, Alison Hannah, paid tribute to Ahmed and to the organisation he founded, with Alison noting how true PRI has remained both to its founding mission and to its approach to achieving change.
Listen to a podcast or watch a short film of highlights from the event