A fair wage for prisoners

June 13, 2011

You report (5 June) that the Justice Secretary concedes that expanding work in prison could “jeopardise the job prospects of the law-abiding”.

This is a risk, yet the Government could easily guard against this by introducing a prison minimum wage, as recommended in our report Inside Job.

This wage would be less than the national minimum wage and would account for the living costs already borne by the prison service. However, at around £3.10 per hour, it would prevent exploitation and stop the local job market from being radically undercut.

Setting a wage at this level would not only ensure a fair wage for prisoners but would also mean that inmates earn enough to have meaningful deductions made both to support crime victims and to save for their own housing costs after release.

The Government’s ambition to expand work in prison is the right one, but unless a floor is set on the wages that are paid by companies, the potential will not be realised and local employment could be affected.

This letter originally appeared on The Independent’s website

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