HM Prison Lewes
Lewes Prison seen from the castle
|Location||Lewes, East Sussex|
|Security class||Adult Male/Local|
|Population||723 (as of August 2008)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Website||Lewes at justice.gov.uk|
HM Prison Lewes is a local men's prison, located in Lewes in East Sussex, England. The term 'local' means that the prison holds people on remand to the local courts, as well as sentenced prisoners. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.
Lewes is a Victorian prison, built in 1853. One of its first uses was to hold three hundred Finnish grenadiers as part of the Crimean War. The guards had been captured defending Bomarsund Fortress on the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea. The grenadiers were later released and repatriated to Finland.
During the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, several prominent figures involved in it were held at Lewes Prison, including Éamon de Valera (1882–1975); Thomas Ashe (1885–1917); Frank Lawless (1871–1922); and Harry Boland (1887–1922).
A £1 million healthcare suite opened in the prison in June 2004, with facilities to treat physically ill prisoners and a 19-bed unit for assessing mental health.
In February 2008, an inspection report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons stated that one wing in Lewes Prison needed to be refurbished urgently after inspectors found that inmates had to eat their meals on toilets. The report also stated that anti-bullying and suicide prevention procedures at the prison were weak. However, inspectors found that vulnerable prisoners felt safe, and that the prison was decent overall. Two months later a new accommodation block for 174 inmates was opened at the prison, with a commitment from prison management to refurbish older wings at Lewes within the following 12 months.
In October 2003, after 25 to 30 prisoners were involved in a riot just before nightly lock-up that led to property damage and the injury of an officer, officials launched an inquiry.
In 2016 there was a riot lasting 6 hours when cells and offices were damaged, prison officers forced to retreat to safety. Mike Rolfe of the Prison Officers Association blamed severe staff shortage and bad management. Rolfee said, “There were only four staff on that wing and all four retreated to safety after threats of violence and the prisoners went on the rampage.” Two years previously a serving officer said Lewes Prison, “resembled a warzone” due to severe staff shortage and drug smuggling. 
The prison today
Lewes is a local prison, holding convicted and remand adult males mainly from East Sussex and West Sussex courts. Accommodation at the prison consists mainly of shared cells, with some single accommodation. A new house block was opened at the prison in April 2008.
The prison also has a First Night Centre for newly imprisoned inmates, and a Listener Scheme for those at risk of suicide and self-harm. The prison offers a range of full and part-time education including information technology, literacy, numeracy and life/social skills. Additional employment is offered in the prison workshops.
- "UK | England | Southern Counties | New £1m health suite for prison". BBC News. 2004-06-10. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- "UK | England | Sussex | Jail 'needs urgent refurbishment'". BBC News. 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- "UK | England | Sussex | Jail gets more space in new block". BBC News. 2008-04-12. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- "UK | Inquiry after prison riot". BBC News. 2003-10-08. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- Specialist officers called to Lewes prison to control six-hour riot at notorious jail once described as ‘worse than Syria’ The Independent
- Lewes Prison 'rampage' forces staff 'retreat' BBC
- HMP Birmingham prison rioters will face 'full force of law', says Truss The Guardian