Britains cushiest jail The superprison where inmates are men not offenders


first_imgBritain’s biggest jail where prisoners will be called “men” rather than “offenders” and the governor insists that the rooms are not cells has started welcoming inmates. Criminals arriving at HMP Berwyn will find a laptop, TV and phone in their en-suite rooms and be able to make use of the all-weather football pitch and gyms when they are not in classes. Prison officers will have to knock before entering the rooms, which will not be referred to as cells, and the men will not be referred to as offenders or ex-offenders, to try to prevent them living up to the label. Governor Russ Trent has said that he wants it to be “truly rehabilitative” but critics have questioned whether the facility is too soft.  A cell at HMP Berwyn complete with a TV and phone  He said: “The opportunity we have got at Berwyn is we have got staff that understand the principles of rehabilitation and the desire to give men in custody the hope that they can have a better life in the future. ” The facility also has a full-sized 3G football pitch, gyms, an education block, workshops, sports hall, multi-use games areas, a health and wellbeing centre, and multi-faith centre. Inspirational posters adorn the walls with messages including  “Look to the future with ambition and hope” and “Big journeys begin with little steps”. There will even be a scout group at the prison for the children of those behind bars. Mr Trent said that the men are punished when they are taken away from their homes and families, so whilst in prison they should have decent conditions and live a life as normal as possible. It is the first in a series of new “super-prisons” to open  its doors and was last month heralded by Liz Truss, the Justice Secretary, as proof that the system is being modernised.  HMP Berwyn gymCredit:Daily Post Wales HMP Berwyn cell where prisoners have access to a phone, computer and TV in their room  But Philip Davies MP, who sits on the Justice Committee, warned that for their to be trust in the system the public needed to see justice being done. He said that the perks they had sent a “terrible message”, adding: “You can rehabilitate people without giving them the creature comforts that many of my constituents could not afford such as a computer in their room.” The prison is run in a collegiate system, like Oxford and Cambridge universities, and is split into three blocks of 700 so the men have more of a sense of belonging.  At the moment, only one block is operational. The blocks are broken up into 24 communities, which can hold up to 88 people. There are even specific communities for armed forces veterans. Staff say the smaller communities make the men easier to manage and will help foster a better atmosphere. The other blocks are scheduled to open in May and late July.    HMP Berwyn cell where prisoners have access to a phone, computer and TV in their room Credit:Daily Post Wales/Cascade Any suggestion that it will be “cushy” has been rejected by Nick Dann, the deputy project director.  “They are not prisoners, they are men. If you keep calling someone an offender or ex-offender, that’s how they will act,” he said. “If they start off with the mindset that this does not feel like a prison, we are hoping they will act like it is not a prison as well. “When Nelson Mandela was in custody, he wrote about the importance of normality. The more normal you make it on the inside, the easier it is to transition when they get out.” Costing £250m to buid,  the Category C prison can hold up to 2,100 inmates, making the biggest in the UK and one of the biggest prisons in Europe. A cell at HMP Berwyn complete with a TV and phone Credit:North Wales Daily Post HMP Berwyn communal areaCredit:Daily Post Wales  HMP Berwyn communal area Mr Trent, a former Royal Marine who was seen as a trouble shooter, has said that the facility will be run on ‘Mandela Rules’,  a United Nations standard aimed at making life in prison as similar as possible to life on the outside. Therefore the inmates, who started arriving on Tuesday, will find their rooms kitted out with technology to make their lives as “normal” as possible. Laptops will not have access to the internet but will be used by the men to arrange visits, order meals for the week and do their weekly shopping, as well as complete any work related to their studies.They will have phones in their rooms which can call approved numbers “so they can ring their children at night and say goodnight”.  He had previously told staff he didn’t call the men in custody prisoners or offenders and claimed that by describing their living areas as rooms not cells it was “giving them ownership of it and how they live in there and how they keep it clean and tidy”. Michael Gove, then Justice Secretary, said that his approach was “absolutely right” as “the principal purpose of prison is rehabilitation”.  HMP Berwyn gym Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? 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