Brit Prisoners May Work to Compensate Victims
Justice chief wants to replace 'enforced idleness' with full-time work
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2010 3:10 AM CDT
Prisoners at London's HMP Pentonville walk through an atrium.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Britain's justice secretary is looking for jobs—and a massive pay raise—for the country's 85,000 prison inmates. Ken Clarke wants companies to outsource work to the nation's prisons, and to pay inmates the national minimum wage of $9.39 an hour instead of the current maximum prison wage of $15 per week, the Wall Street Journal reports. The wages would be used to compensate victims of crime, and pay for prison costs, with some going to the inmates' families. Prisoners would be allowed to keep around $30 per week.

Clarke says he wants to turn Britain's jails from places of "enforced idleness," where most inmates currently don't work, to places of "purposeful hard work" where most inmates work 40-hour weeks, improving their chances of finding work after release. He is considering building new jails attached to factories, where inmates could work in a secure area. Inmates won't be forced to work under Clarke's plan, although those who don't may have privileges like TV sets taken away.