The debate was recorded in the courtroom of the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham and involves a panel including Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, former prisons ombudsman for Northern Ireland Pauline McCabe and ex Lib Dem prisons minister Simon Hughes.
Also contributing – the former inspector of prisons in England and Wales, Nick Herbert, economist Vicky Pryce, Birmingham-based criminologist James Treadwell and Patsie Mckie from Mothers Against Violence in Manchester.
Producer Ashley Byrne says: ‘Stephen Sackur is the perfect host for a powerful debate in which we hear some stark testimony from an audience including victim’s families and former inmates. Some of the stories are very moving and the arguments for and against prison and its benefits are made passionately on all sides.’
What Point Prison? looks at whether prison is working as well as examining the plethora of alternatives that could be considered – from boot camps to restorative justice.
Ashley adds: “Prison numbers are huge. If you combine England and Wales with Scotland and Northern Ireland around 93,000 people are incarcerated across the UK which is the biggest number in Western Europe. It’s a good time to be looking at what prison is all about.”
Among the testimonies – Ray and Vi Donovan from London who forgave their son’s three killers through restorative justice.
Radio 4’s criminal justice season also includes a series called Rethinking The Clink presented by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. Both the series and the debate are now available via the BBC iplayer radio. Listen to the debate here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07pj2pk