By Kaylie Piecuch
Published March 30, 2019
Inmates at the largest UK prison have been given the ability to lock and unlock their cells, along with requesting privacy.
The all-male prison, HMP Berwyn, located in Wales, is the largest prison controlled under the Ministry of Justice. The inmates are majority C-class offenders, meaning they cannot be trusted in open conditions yet they are unlikely to try and escape.
The keys will control when their cells are locked and the level of personal time that makes them comfortable. Officers will also have to knock and ask for permission before entering.
“Observational evidence from Berwyn supports the concept that giving people custody control over their space also results in them taking care of and respecting their space,” the MoJ reported alongside the Royal Institute of British Architects.
There are limits on the freedom of the prisoners. Through a dual lock system controlled by officers, the cells will be locked during the night.
The Victims’ Rights Campaign has spoken out against these relaxed measures, acknowledging the significant cost of an error.
“Giving them their own keys and knocking first gives inmates who are devious the opportunity to hide illicit contraband, phones or drugs,” Harry Fletcher, director for the campaign, told The Telegraph.
The new prison rules are the effect of a $345 million renovation to the UK jail, granted to the facility for the purpose of creating a more “domestic” environment.
Additional rules inside the prison include referring to the cells as “rooms,” and prisoners as “men.”
“Being given the possibility to personalize their own environments has a wide range of benefits for the health and wellbeing of people in custody,” the MoJ reported.
“Allowing men in custody to control their atmospheric conditions…can alleviate negative wellbeing impacts of poor atmospheric conditions and generate a sense of self-efficacy.”
The MoJ has also approved many newly redesigned prisons in the UK to remove bars from their cell windows and replace it with reinforced glass, allowing more visibility to nature.
The ministry will also give thousands of prisoners personal phones inside their cells, according to Sky News.
The MoJ and Royal Institute of British Architects have plans to create 5 new prisons with the same ethic design as the Berwyn jail.