Under pressure of budget cuts and economies of scale, prisons are getting fewer and larger, with a drive to close small community and open prisons, build larger jails and add additional capacity to existing establishments. Since 2010 there have been 13 prison closures and a further six still to come.
Chris Grayling's speech on Monday at Conservative Party conference reads as if the last 40 months didn't even happen. All his talk of tougher sentencing for knife crime and clamping down on use of cautions shamelessly ignores his out of touch Government's record since the last election and their disgraceful lack of support for innocent victims of crime.
Nobody enjoys being stopped from doing things they want to do. And government ministers - who like to think of themselves as being 'in charge' - take to it even less. So it was no surprise that at this year's Conservative party conference, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that she wants to repeal the Human Rights Act.
Handing over the keys to some of our most precious public services isn't something that should be done lightly, particularly when public trust is at stake. As a head of a country wide charity that deals with more than a million people each year, I'm acutely aware of the fragility of trust when delivering public services.
They say that crime doesn't pay. I don't know who "they" are in this context but "they" probably couldn't find their face with both hands. Talk to the experts, the people who really know about crime, the ones on the front line, and story is different. If you ask actual criminals, they will tell you that it pays rather handsomely, thank you very much.
The government is currently embarking on one of the largest change programme of the criminal justice system in recent history...The impact assessment of the Bill reveals that around 13,000 offenders will be recalled or committed to custody as a result of the proposals, giving a prison places increase of around 600 additional places per year.
Chris Grayling may have been forced into a humiliating climb-down on his plans to eliminate client choice from criminal legal aid, but don't jump for joy just yet. It's just one battle in a war on many fronts. Other aspects of his legal aid reforms are just as egregious and he shows no sign of backing down on them. Today, Grayling will be appearing before the Justice Select Committee for a grilling by a panel of MPs. Questions that MPs on the committee should ask him include...
I am writing to ask that you revisit your proposals for legal aid, proposals which have generated considerable criticism from across the board... Labour fully supports making those can afford to pay their legal fees do so, and clawing back costs from wealthy criminals. Legal aid should be reserved for those most in need.
We can't escape the fact that legal aid is taxpayers' money. It's not free and certainly is not a bottomless pot. We need to get the best value from every penny spent and we have made progress already in delivering a more efficient, targeted legal aid system.
From the reporting, you might have thought this was just a group of public-spirited barristers taking a break from their highly paid jobs to protect the justice system. Maybe they were. But I can't help noticing that legal aid pays the fees of lawyers. Thus, any cuts to the budget come directly from their capacious wallets.
Chris Grayling might not have a problem with G4S justice. He, Cameron, Osborne and the rest of them may well think that anyone who has reached the age of criminal responsibility without earning enough to hire their own silk is to be presumed a member of the criminal classes. But Dominic Grieve should know better.
It's no secret that the re-offending rate in this country remains far too high and that the public find it alarming. What's less publicised is what victims think about all this. Time and again victims tell me that, yes they want those who committed a crime to be punished, but also they want them to be rehabilitated.
Privatisation raises ethical questions about the nature and role of imprisonment in our society. While privatisation could help curb any remaining restrictive practices, it is no panacea to the problems of our overcrowded, usually invisible and too often ineffective prison system.
What I suggest is needed here is not a consultation on a limited and technical set of reforms to judicial review, but rather, a more widespread debate in Parliament and society more generally as to where is the appropriate balance to be drawn between Judicial Review being a proper and legitimate means of holding the executive to account, and where does it become a mechanism simply for seeking to frustrate and thwart decisions taken by ministers with which one happens to disagree.
The Chief Inspector of Prisons reveals that a shocking 21% of prisons in youth jails are Muslim, an increase of 8% in only three years.
A commitment to allow prisoners to re-enter society, as opposed to just letting them rot, has real potential to improve the outcome of our justice system for everyone. So go for it Chris, go for it MoJ, go for it prison bosses, and as citizens we need to play our part in supporting this agenda.