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 concentrating 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 Fortress 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. Teacup Poisoner Graham Young died there of a heart attack in 1990.
Parkhurst began in 1778 as a military hospital and children's asylum. By 1838, it was a prison for children. 123 Parkhurst apprentices were sent to the Colony of New Zealand in 1842 and 1843, and a total of almost 1500 boys between the ages of 12 and 18 years were sent to various colonies in Australia and New Zealand. Swan River Colony (Western Australia) received 234 between 1842 and 1849, then chose to accept adult convicts as well. Victoria and Tasmania also received Parkhurst Boys, who were always referred to as "apprentices", not "convicts". Prison Governor Captain George Hall employed boys to make bricks to build the C and M block wings onto the building.
Parkhurst became a prison in 1863, holding young male prisoners. 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.
In October 2008, it was announced that the name Parkhurst could be lost, along with the two other prison names, Albany and Camp Hill. The three would become part of one large prison run by a single governor. 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. In 2013 Camp Hill prison was closed.
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- 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.
- "Isle of Wight County Press – "Parkhurst name set to disappear"". www.iwcp.co.uk. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- "Isle of Wight County Press – "Prisons to become HMP Isle of Wight"". www.iwcp.co.uk. Retrieved 30 March 2009.
- "Isle of Wight County Press - "Service marks the end of Camp Hill prison"". www.iwcp.co.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2013.