Friday, January 26, 2007


'Prison Works' Philosophy Causes Acute Problems

Most people I know in my local community, if asked, would probably identify crime and menacing behaviour by youngsters as the things about which they are most worried in society. Most of them also, I suspect, would prescribe periods in jail-see picture- for offenders of varying lengths, tending to the longer rather than shorter. The latest crime figures from the most reliable source, the British Crime Survey, indicate a slight increase in crime and reveal some of the problems which such attitudes help generate.

Since the mid nineties crime has reduced by over 40% but:

1. Prison population has rocketed to its highest ever level so that now there is so little room available that even paedophiles are being spared the prison sentences judges hand down.

2. Prison fails utterly to rehabilitate prisoners so that most of them go on to re-offend within two years.

3. Martin Neary, former director of prisons, quoted in The Guardian's leader claims that overcrowding has now reached the counter-productive stage where there is no finance to support what educative and preparatory work which previously existed. The results, he claims, are made evident in the latest figures.

4. The guideline that minor offenders should not be imprisoned, something which successive Home Secretaries have urged, seems to have been ignored: in 1993 there were 29 shoplifters in jail- now there are 1,500.

To prove he is making a genuine difference at the Home Office, John Reid needs to sort out both prisons and sentencing policy.

Prison does indeed work for me. I have never been a victim of a criminal who has been behind bars at the time of the crime. The only way prison doesn't work is if you let them out.

Seems rather obvious to me.
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