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British Prisoners Could Build Their Own Jails

LONDON -- British prisoners could be allowed to build their own jails, as the government looks for ways to slash spending to reduce the country's debt.

The prison service was considering Sunday plans to allow convicts to be trained in bricklaying, plumbing and electrical work while they build secure accommodation for themselves.

They would be paid £10 ($16) a day to buy snacks and drinks.

Prisoners would then be employed as laborers to build new wings in overcrowded jails and even help construct new prisons.

But a government source said that prisoners would not be allowed to see jail blueprints or make their own keys.

"Ministers want to end the culture of enforced idleness and introduce a regime of hard work instead. Jail shouldn't be seen as a place to have a lie-down," a government source said. "Construction combines strenuous work with training so that offenders leave prison with a trade, less likely to return to crime. The goal is simple -- we want to turn more prisoners into taxpayers."

The proposal being worked on for the UK's justice secretary, Ken Clarke, came a day after he said that jails were a waste of money and the rate of people being put behind bars was "financially unsustainable."