Sites in Yorkshire, Wigan, Kent and south Wales have been earmarked for development to replace old and overcrowded establishments, creating up to 5,000 modern prison places.
The announcement comes as part of a £1.3bn commitment to transform the UK’s prison estate and build up to 10,000 modern prison places by 2020.
Justice secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “We cannot hope to reduce reoffending until we build prisons that are places of reform, where hard work and self-improvement flourish.
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“Outdated prisons, with dark corridors and cramped conditions, will not help offenders turn their back on crime – nor do they provide our professional and dedicated prison officers with the right tools or environment to do their job effectively.
“This significant building programme will not only help create a modern prison estate where wholescale reform can truly take root, but will also provide a thriving, economic lifeline for the local community – creating hundreds of jobs for local people and maximising opportunities for businesses.”
Final decisions on the new prisons will be subject to planning approvals, value for money and affordability.
A programme of valuation work will now begin to inform further decisions about the prison estate.