Friday, June 05, 2009

No more early releases

The turmoil in the probation services as revealed by the case of the two murdered French students demonstrates a fundamental flaw in the justice system.

With the prison capacity stretched beyond the limit, the government have turned to the idea of releasing prisoners before their sentences have been properly served or discouraging courts from applying prison sentences at all.

Unfortunately, such a system has placed considerably more stress on the probation service while at the same time providing no additional support or capacity for that service to cope with the extra burden imposed on it by government policies.

The options are limited, but clear. There must be an immediate cessation to the policy of automatic early release. Prisoners should serve their full sentence and any shortening (or lengthening come to that) of that sentence should be linked to their behaviour while behind bars.

Secondly, the government must find some way of increasing the capacity of the prison service - whether that means prison ships or turning a disused barracks into a prison is up to them, but they must do it and do it quickly.

Thirdly, they must instruct courts to apply prison sentences where they are justified rather than doing all they can to avoid custodial sentences.

Finally, we must get away from this belief that "prison doesn't work". It does if you understand what it's purpose is and the purpose of prison is NOT to rehabilitate offenders, but to punish them and remove them from the general population so that they cannot commit further crimes while incarcerated.

It's actually very effective at the latter, but less so as a punishment. Once more, what is needed is a return to prisons which are austere places where prisoners are expected to perform hard work and where luxuries such as access to entertainment or are earned not expected.


Letters From A Tory said...

Sadly, the Labour leadership crisis dropped this story down the news ladder, even though the government should have suffered a huge amount of pain for this.

Stan said...

I think that's a reflection on the vacuous, Westminster obsessed media rather than anything else, LFAT. Most people I talk to are more concerned about the problems of our nation than the problems of the Labour party.

staybryte said...

Agree entirely with your post Stan. Another point is that properly austere prisons would be safer for non-dangerous prisoners.