Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Plans for new faith-based prison

A new jail could be built in Cornwall - 85 years after the the last one closed.

Those behind the proposal say a prison is needed in the county because sending locals to jails outside of Cornwall can strain inmates' family relationships.

A Christian organisation is looking at the feasibility of building a faith-based private jail, run on Christian ethics, to help rehabilitate inmates.

However, the Prison Service said it had "no current plans" to build faith-specific prisons in England and Wales.

The leaders of Carpenters House project are now raising funds to provide a prison feasibility study and will then lodge their proposal with the government.

'Early days'

If the proposal receives government backing, the next step would be to identify a suitable site in Cornwall and then build the £50m jail.

Cornwall's last prison, in Bodmin, shut in 1927 and later became a tourist attraction.

The project, which it is hoped will also help to cut to re-offending, would see a voluntary in-house training course run in the jail for inmates which would be based on the Bible and 10 Commandments.

It would be spearheaded by the Kainos Community, a faith-based charity which has operated its Challenge to Change programme in jails for more than a decade.

During that time they claim to have cut re-offending rates among inmates they have worked with by 87% within two years of their release - the national average is 40%.

Research has been ongoing for the last two years regarding the establishment of a prison in Cornwall run by the Christian community in the county
Mike Critchley, Carpenters House project

Plans for a faith-based prison have won the backing of the Bishop of Truro, the Quakers, as well as Baptist, Methodist and pentecostal churches in the county.

However, prisoners of all denominations could be sent to the prison.

Mike Critchley, chairman of the Carpenters House project, said: "...research has been ongoing for the last two years regarding the establishment of a prison in Cornwall run by the Christian community in the county.

"It is very early days but we continue to research the proposal which we trust will eventually see a facility built here."

A spokesman for the Prison Service said: "The National Offender Management Service (NOMS), which runs prisons in England and Wales for the Ministry of Justice, is aware of the initiative suggested by this group."

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