The Bishop of Liverpool: punish our criminals in public

The Rt Rev James Jones went behind bars to judge our prison system

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For BBC Radio 4’s The Bishop and the Prisoner, the Rt Rev James Jones has been given an unusual degree of access in jails in Liverpool, Surrey and Greater Manchester. Speaking in this week’s Radio Times, he said most prisoners have “done something wrong for which they need to be punished, both in their own interests and those of society.

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“It punishes and it protects the rest of society from those who are locked up. But that is not enough.”

He believes that locking people away from society also locks them away from people who could help reform them: “We remove them from those they love. We’re isolating them from the very thing they most need.”

In the three-part series, he talks to prison staff, politicians and inmates, who share their ideas about effective punishment both within prison and in Community Payback schemes.

Commenting on the need to take a tougher stance on crime, the bishop said: “There’s a tabloid editor in every one of us. When we see something awful, anger is the right reaction. But if you stop at anger, neither the victim nor society is well served.”

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To read more about what the Bishop of Liverpool discovered and what he hopes to achieve, get the new issue of Radio Times magazine, on sale now.