HM Prison Parkhurst
|Location||Parkhurst, Isle of Wight|
|Security class||Adult Male/Category B|
|Population||497 (as of August 2008)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Website||Parkhurst at justice.gov.uk|
Isle of Wight prisons
Parkhurst prison is one of the two prisons that make up HMP Isle of Wight, the other being Albany. Parkhurst and Albany were once amongst the few top-security prisons (called "Dispersals" because they dispersed the more troublesome prisoners rather than concentrated them all in one place) in the United Kingdom, but were downgraded in the 1990s.
The downgrading of Parkhurst was preceded by a major escape: three prisoners (two murderers and a blackmailer) made their way out of the prison on 3 January 1995 to enjoy four days of freedom before being recaptured. One of them, Keith Rose, is an amateur pilot. During those four days, they were living rough in a shed in a garden in Ryde, having failed to steal a plane from the local airclub. A programme entitled Britain's Island Fortess was made about this prison escape for National Geographic Channel's Breakout documentary series.
Parkhurst enjoyed notoriety as one of the toughest jails in the British Isles. Many notable criminals, including the Richardson brothers, the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, Kenny Carter, Moors Murderer Ian Brady, Terrance John Clark (Mr Asia Drug Syndicate), and the Kray twins, were incarcerated there.
Parkhurst Prison was first built as a military hospital in 1805 and was later transformed to a prison for boys awaiting deportation, mainly to Australia, as part of the Parkhurst Act of 1835. As such, it was the first land-based government prison specifically for young people in England and Wales. By 1847, a new wing (C Wing) had been built by the prisoners, digging the clay and baking the bricks themselves (this wing is still in operation today). Almost from its beginnings as a prison for young offenders, Parkhurst was subject to fierce criticism by the public, politicians and in the press for its harsh regime (including the use of leg irons initially). It became a particular focus of critique for reformers campaigning against the use of imprisonment for children, most notably Mary Carpenter.
From 1863 to 1869, Parkhurst served as a female prison; however, after this date, it was converted to a male prison and has served as such ever since. In 1968 it became one of the first dispersal prisons. The prison remained as high security until the mid-1990s when it was downgraded to Category B.
In October 2008, it was announced that the name Parkhurst could be lost, along with the two other prison names, Albany and Camphill. The three would become part of a cluster prison with one governor in charge. New names for the larger single prison have been suggested as HMP Solent, HMP Mountbatten and HMP Vectis. HMP Isle of Wight was later selected as the new name for the super prison incorporating all three island prisons.
The prison today
The accommodation at Parkhurst consists mainly of single cells with an operational capacity of 497. The prison takes criminals serving over four years (including vulnerable prisoners), prisoners at stage 1 or 2 of a life sentence and Isle of Wight remands.
The regime at the prison includes a gymnasium of nationally recognised quality and a range of training including education up to and including Open University level. There are nine workshops dealing with upholstery, arts & crafts, laundry, wheelchair repairs, breakfast packing, Aramark, BICS Cleaning and gardens. The prison also runs TSP, CALM and SOTP offending behaviour programmes.
- "Parkhurst Prison – Eric Mason homepage". www.ericmasonuk.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2008.
- "Britain's Island Fortess". Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Peter Sutcliffe: The Yorkshire Ripper – The aftermath". www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2008.[dead link]
- "Sch News Issue 195 11 December 1998 – "INSIDE SCHNEWS"". www.schnews.org.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2008.
- "Ian Brady biography". www.astrotheme.com. Retrieved 8 December 2008.
- "The Kray twins at Parkhurst Prison". www.assistnews.net. Retrieved 8 December 2008.[dead link]
- Hagell A and Hazel N (2001) 'Macro and micro patterns in the development of secure custodial institutions for serious and persistent young offenders in England and Wales.' Youth Justice 1, 1, 3–16
- Carpenter, Mary (1851). Reformatory Schools: For the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes and for Juvenile Offenders. London: C. Gilpin. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
- "HM Prison Service – Parkhurst Prison". www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2008.
- "Isle of Wight County Press – "Parkhurst name set to disappear"". www.iwcp.co.uk. Retrieved 8 December 2008.[dead link]
- "Isle of Wight County Press – "Prisons to become HMP Isle of Wight"". www.iwcp.co.uk. Retrieved 30 March 2009.