PRISONERS held in a jail near Uttoxeter are being kept in overcrowded cells, it has been revealed.
Figure obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform found 128 prisoners held at Dovegate Prison, in Marchington, were sharing cells designed for one person.
They were among almost 20,000 prisoners kept in overcrowded cells last year.
The figures show that, during the financial year 2012-13, 19,140 prisoners were forced to share cells designed for one person.
A further 777 prisoners were made to sleep three to a cell designed to accommodate two.
The charity said official government prison population announcements mask the full extent of overcrowding as they do not state how many cells are holding too many prisoners.
The worst-affected prison in England and Wales was Wandsworth, where on a typical day 835 prisoners were forced to share cells.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “At last, we have the picture of the real state of overcrowding in our prisons.
“It’s far worse than anyone imagined: one in four people behind bars are packed like sardines into cramped cells.
“It should come as little surprise that such crowded conditions leave staff hugely overstretched, especially as more are being laid off.
“This means there are little to no opportunities for prisoners to work, learn or take courses to turn them away from crime.
“Staff cuts and overcrowding mean that grown men spend all weekend and up to 22 hours a day during the week cooped up like battery chickens – no wonder violence and self-injury is rife.
“If the Ministry of Justice is serious about reducing reoffending it must tackle overcrowding now. Successive governments have peddled the lie that you can build your way out of a prisons overcrowding problem.
“While public services are being cut, ministers should look at more effective and affordable solutions.”