This chapter focuses on positive and negative developments in recent years. It welcomes the decline in the prison population and the increased focus on disproportionality. It also discusses those developments which can be viewed as negatives ones, particularly the continuing high imprisonment rate and the continued use of methods of restraining children and young people in custody. It focusses on the impact of Covid-19 on the courts, the prison population and the use of FPNs before discussing the arguments for abolition of the use of imprisonment or its reform. We then refer to the discourse of human rights—both its importance and the attacks on it, before referring to the re-emergence of problem-solving courts. Lastly the authors’ concerns as to ‘what needs to be done’ are considered.
12. Concluding remarks
8. Justice in the modern prison
In this chapter we focus on the treatment of adult prisoners, examining a number of aspects of prison life as well as considering the aims of imprisonment. Key developments since 1990 are considered, including the Woolf Report (Woolf and Tumin 1991), managerialism and privatisation, the implications of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998 and the impact of the pandemic, to assess whether the just treatment of prisoners has been achieved. While substantial improvements in prison regimes have been made since the early 1990s, there has also been considerable pressure on them from the expanding prison population. The problem of reconciling respect for the rights of prisoners with the administrative needs of the prison system and the deterrent function of prison is highlighted. The potential to reduce the prison population substantially in the current political climate is also discussed.