The debate over charities running prisons has taken a new twist courtesy of the Carpenter House project, a group of Christian organisations that wants to build and run a 350-man jail in Cornwall.
Stuart Mitson, a former prison governor and consultant for the project, said it was at an early stage, but discussions with the Government had not resulted in anyone "laughing in anyone's face".
He said prisoners would be encouraged to enrol on faith-based reoffending programmes run by Christian charity the Kainos Community. People who have been through the programme have a reoffending rate of 13 per cent, compared with the national average of 65 per cent, he said.
Mitson said he could see no reason why charities should not run prisons. "Prisons don't run on coercion," he said. "The guards are too heavily outnumbered. They are run on cooperation."
A spokesman for the National Offender Management Service said it was aware of the initiative but had no plans for faith-specific prisons.