HM Prison Send
Nestled in the quaint village of Send near Woking, HM Prison Send stands out starkly against the idyllic backdrop of the Surrey countryside. Behind its imposing walls and razor wire fences resides England’s only women’s prison with a population of around 280 inmates.
A History Etched in Stone
Originally built in 1962 as a smallpox isolation hospital, Send prison has a unique history deeply rooted in the area. After operating for over two decades focused on disease control, the hospital buildings were repurposed in 1987 into a men’s detention center before being rebuilt and reopened in 1999 as a female closed security prison. This legacy is literally etched in the prison’s structure, with the original hospital’s stonework still prominently visible.
Life Inside Send’s Walls
As a closed prison, Send houses inmates with sentences of various lengths. The layout consists of four main units:
- An 80-bed Resettlement Unit to prepare women for release
- A 40-bed Therapeutic Community for rehabilitation programs
- Two Planned Environment Units with high levels of psychological support
Cells are a mix of single and double occupancy. Facilities also include inmate work programs, educational classrooms, and outdoor areas for exercise and gardening.
Opportunities Amidst Barbed Wire
Education and skills training form a major part of daily life at Send. Inmates can complete courses and NVQs ranging from horticulture to business administration. The prison’s farms and gardens enable some women to achieve qualifications in floristry.
Work programs also teach useful employment skills. The on-site industrial workshop and painting studios offer vocational training opportunities. Voluntary work, college courses, and community work placements prepare women approaching release.
Healing Through Nature
Send’s extensive gardens and farms serve an important therapeutic purpose. Inmates cultivate produce and tend livestock while benefiting from the healing power of nature and meditation. The prison’s floristry program allows women to find comfort working with flowers.
Mental health services have expanded to address the unique needs of female prisoners struggling with trauma, addiction, and abuse. Counseling and peer support are available, but understaffing has challenged efforts.
New Directions from a Contentious Past
Send hasn’t been without its share of controversy. Self-harm and suicide rates have troubled the prison. Overcrowding, understaffing, and budget constraints have ignited criticism. However, meaningful policy changes have created cautious optimism.
Send also houses infamous inmates like child killer Rose West. But each woman’s story is complex. Send aims to be a place of rehabilitation over retribution.
An Evolving Legacy
While remnants of its past remain, Send continues evolving. New programs train officers in trauma-informed care and provide compassionate release for eligible inmates. Send strives to propel women toward a better future.
At the edge of a quaint village, a closed women’s prison full of potential and contradictions still searches for the right balance. But with each small triumph cultivating a flower or changing a life, Send’s legacy takes root.
Q1: When did Send open as a women’s prison?
A1: Send was rebuilt and opened as a closed women’s prison in 1999.
Q2: What is the main focus of vocational programs at Send?
A2: Key vocational programs include horticulture, floristry, business administration, workshops, and farms/gardens.
Q3: How many inmates does Send currently house?
A3: Send has a population of around 280 adult female inmates.
Q4: What have been some of the main controversies at Send prison?
A4: Criticisms have included high rates of self-harm/suicide, overcrowding, understaffing, and budget constraints.
Q5: What types of facilities make up Send prison?
A5: Send contains resettlement, therapeutic, and planned environment units as well as cells, classrooms, workshops, farms, and gardens.