Key questions must be answered on new Port Talbot prison

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Local Plaid AM pushes for prison reform and devolution

Plaid Cymru's Bethan Jenkins AM has responded to the news that the Ministry of Justice intends to build a new prison in Port Talbot by saying that key questions must be answered on safety and local services.

Bethan Jenkins AM also made the case for reform of the prison estate and a fresh look at the efficiency of prisons in rehabilitating prisoners.

She added that Plaid Cymru would continue to press for the devolution of the justice system, arguing that Welsh justice is best served in Welsh hands.

Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales West, Bethan Jenkins said:

"Building a new prison in isolation to looking at new ways of helping to ensure people do not re-offend and to realise the error of their actions, and addressing why so many people with mental health problems are in prison, is a sign of bad government and poor strategy from the Tories.

We need to look at prison reform, not just build new prisons and assume that it is the only answer. So I cannot warmly welcome this news today.'

Plaid Cymru has been calling for the devolution of these matters for some time. Decisions about Wales, for Welsh prisoners, should be made in Wales.

"The Ministry of Justice must answer key questions on this scheme. It's vital that the safety of the local community will not be compromised by this plan. There is a new super school in Baglan, and a new Welsh Language School is yet to be developed there.

"The area already has huge traffic problems that the Council are failing to deal with. What will throwing a prison in the mix mean?'

"Plaid Cymru has been critical of the HMP Berwyn superprison in Wrexham due its disproportionately large size and in particular, the pressure the huge number of inmates may put on the local NHS and other services.

"If this is to go ahead, assurances are needed on private sector involvement in the proposed Port Talbot prison. Evidence shows that when private companies are contracted to be responsible for prison security, the safety of both staff and inmates is compromised. This must not be allowed to happen.

"In the long run, Plaid Cymru remains committed to the devolution of the prison estate alongside the wider justice system."

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