Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Prison reform

Here is the Prime Minister's speech on Prison Reform and the reaction to it of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

The Prison Reform Trust has published this interesting and useful briefing on Prison Facts: Summer 2015

The detail of how the Prime Minister's headline policy speech will translate into actual practice remains to be seen.  For now, it worth noting what the Howard League has said:  "Prison reform, however, is the tip of the iceberg. Improved education and increased autonomy for governors will not work if there are people crammed into filthy institutions with no staff to open the cell doors. We need action now to tackle sentence inflation and the profligate use of prison. Then the Prime Minister's vision can become a reality."

Further reaction to the speech may be seen at The Guardian - "It won't work without sentencing reform" and at the Centre for Crime and Justice response to the speech.

Previous post - Imprisonment in England and Wales (August 2015)

Offenders who are not imprisoned
will be dealt with by either community sentences, fines or "out of court" methods such as cautions, fixed penalty notices etc.  Under recent reforms, community sentences are now delivered by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC).  As an example, here is the website of the Greater Manchester and Cheshire CRC.   A number of the commentators (links above) have suggested that sentencing reform is crucial so that the prison population is reduced and more offenders are handled outside of prison.  A particular target for such reforms would be restricting use of short-term sentences (under 12 months), especially since these sentences are seen as less effective than community sentences at reducing re-offending. On 30th June 2015, 6,279 people were serving short sentences (less than 12 months)   The Prime Minister's speech did not specifically address that question.

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