Among the questions asked today by Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Nick Herbert about the Government's proposal to build three "titan" super-prisons, each housing about 2,500 offenders, one seems most clearly to get to the heart of the issue, "Would it not be better to build smaller, local prisons where offenders could be closer to their families to aid rehabilitation?" Or, as the former chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham made the same point in the other chamber:
"I hate Titans and hate the thought of them. The last time they came in they were called “techno-prisons”; they were impersonal, because all locking was done electronically, which broke down the one thing that you need in prisons—the relationship between prisoner and staff. I see that all that electronic whiz-kiddery is mentioned in the Carter report. I hope that we will not have Titans, as they are the complete reversal of what everyone has been talking about, which is to place offenders near to the community from which they come so the community can be involved in their rehabilitation."Put more fundamentally, what is the purpose of prison?