Here's my two pennies worth (which for the record, is my own and not of any organisation that I may - or may not - be associated with
It's my personal view that the prison system in this country (and that of many other) is flawed. Fundamentally I believe locking someone up for doing wrong is perfectly fine - If a person wishes to deprive someone of their life/livelihood/welfare/property/liberty (delete as appropriate) and if the State declares that the offence is worthy of removing that persons liberty by imprisoning them then I fully support that action.
What I don't believe to be right however is that all 'offenders' are thrown in together, as it were, within the prison system. I know persons are assessed on an individual basis as to what institute they are imprisoned in but at the end of the day they all mix together and it's unfortunate but true that people influence each other. Some of these influences may be good but I dare say most come out of the prison system worse than when they went in and so lead to repeat or further offences.
In an ideal world I suppose you would have one-on-one imprisonment. That is, one prisoner per building with just prison staff to look after them and 'socialise with'. Yet this does impose it's own problems (not least with Human Rights) and the fact that we would require far more prison staff than we currently have to fulfil these one-on-one roles (As a plus side this could lead to more job vacancies for our struggling economy but I guess a role in the prison service as a social/rehabilitation worker may not be everyone's cup of tea, anyway I digress...
) and we would also need a lot more 'houses' for these people... Hmmm.