Friday, October 08, 2010

Prison Works - But not for all

I posed the following question to Rt. Hon. Ken Clarke MP prior to his speech at the Conservative Party Conference this week. Unfortunately time ran out so I could not ask the question live - but it was great that he covered the subject of re-offending in great detail in the speech - obviously this was nothing to do with my submitted question - but great to see that he's looking to tackle head on the problem of re-offending which costs the East Riding of Yorkshire almost £23 million per year. I first wrote about this in January of this year which can be found here

Prison works - but not for all.

"Prison sentences fall into two distinct categories - less than 12 months and over.

The evidence shows that short-term prisoners go on to commit the majority of re-offending. Why?

A prisoner serving over 12 months will benefit from rehabilitation programmes in prison, once released will be on licence and under supervision by the probation service.

With short sentences of less than 12 months, the prison service has neither the time nor the opportunity to rehabilitate the prisoner, they are mollycoddled during their stay, and released without supervision or support.... an offender can leave the prison gates with £40 in their pocket and nothing else… no one to meet them, no job, no accommodation and still maintaining drink and drug habits – is it any wonder they go on to re-offend?

Do we need to look seriously at short-term sentencing and whether this is the most effective way of tackling re-offending?"

In the speech he said, "Prison needs to do more than keep criminals off the streets. It must try to prevent them from committing more crime against more victims when they come out.

The biggest failure of the present system is reoffending. Nearly half the people in prison come straight back out and commit another crime in less than twelve months. Absurd. Under New Labour, we had an underclass of people in our broken society who walked out of jail and straight back into crime, again and again.

Fifty three thousand criminals were jailed for six months or less in 2008. Nearly two thirds of them committed another crime within the next year and were sent straight back to prison again. And that was only the ones who were caught and convicted again. Thousands of further crimes against new victims. Quite absurd."

The full speech can be found here

The Government Policy is now:
  • We will introduce a 'rehabilitation revolution' that will pay independent providers to reduce re-offending, paid for by the savings this new approach will generate within the criminal justice system.
  • We will conduct a full review of sentencing policy to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting re-offending.
  • We will ensure that sentencing for drug use helps offenders come off drugs.
  • We will implement the Prisoners' Earnings Act 1996 to allow deductions from the earnings of prisoners in properly paid work to be paid into the Victims' Fund.
  • We will consider how to use proceeds from the Victim Surcharge to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres, and give existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding.
  • We will carry out a fundamental review of Legal Aid to make it work more efficiently.
  • We will introduce effective measures to tackle anti-social behaviour and low-level crime, including forms of restorative justice such as Neighbourhood Justice Panels.


Anonymous said...

The old (now a museum) prison in York next to Cliffords Tower should be the norm with metal beds, stone walls and inmates chained to a ring set into the wall. We would not see riots or prisons being set on fire as you cannot riot on the end of a 6 foot chain and there is nothing to burn in a stone cell. No television, no wasted effort in trying to distract or educate the inmates. In fact absolutely nothing to make anyone want to do anything other than not have a return visit!

Kev Owen said...

I must agree with our 'anonymous' contributor.
The only way to ensure that people actually fear going to prison is to make prison so abhorrent that even the most determined think twice before doing something that would get them sent there.
Mr Clark should also not forget that the present re-offending situation has been with us a lot longer than the term of the previous administration and will remain so whoever is in power IF we continue to 'molly coddle' rather than punish wrongdoers!

John in Gilberdyke said...

Under sharia law a thief loses a hand.