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Prison ministry pastor backs government's plan to give inmates phones

The lead pastor of a prison ministry has praised the government's announcement that thousands of prisoners in England and Wales will be given phones in their cells.

The £7m move is part of a £30 m package to reduce violence and crime in prisons and stem the flow of illegal mobiles.

Speaking during Premier's News Hour, Pastor Philip Noel from Jesus House highlighted how the "luxury" item would increase the likelihood for prisoners to be rehabilitated.

 

"From a human being point of view or from a Christian's, yes, it is a luxury but we're not actually sending them in there to die we're actually sending them in there hoping that the time will change their attitude to life and their fellow human beings," he said.

"So we really want to make sure that we can do that responsibly and people need to have a voice before they start to hear the wrong voices and can come out worse than when they went in."

The technology is already in place at 20 prisons, but the Ministry of Justice wants to extend the scheme to another 20 over the next two years.

All calls - which will continue to be paid for by prisoners - will be recorded with active monitoring introduced if there is any suspicion the service is being abused for crime. Only phone numbers on an approved list will be called.

Currently, most prisoners queue for public phones on the landings, which can be a trigger for violence, the Ministry of Justice said.

Explaining the importance of prisoners speaking to their families, Pastor Noel said: "You've got to consider those who are left behind. Obviously the rehabilitation of getting them back into society when they come out is helped by this constant communication. They can remain alert to their family's... pressing issues. They can get encouragement from those who love them, on the outside.

"I think knowing that your family still believe in you even though you're out of sight, makes a very big difference to their self-worth - it's just improvement all round. I think it's a great thing."

Referencing 1 Thessalonians 5, he urged Christians to "pray without ceasing" for prisoners and their families.

Listen to Pastor Philip Noel speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe:

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