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What use is prison?

What good does putting people who have not commited serious violent offences in prison?

How many people suffer because of one person being put in prison for a non violent crime?
Personally I do not believe it achieves anything much except stress and pain on mothers and fathers, siblings and of course the children. They are the ones punished and they are the innocents.

There are other forms of punishment for these types of prisoners which would save time and money.

I am not advocating that people do not have to be responsible for their actions.  Just that there are better ways to deal with these kind of people.

What do you think?

This is an old article.

The correct use of prison

Our governments must like keeping us scared. Otherwise they would carry out some obvious reforms to the penal system.

People might expect the Prison Reform Trust, a charity working to create an effective, humane prison system, to press for more prison places and more opportunities for rehabilitation in custody rather than for a reduction in prison numbers.

We don't because imprisonment is the most extreme form of punishment in our society. There is no point in building more prison places, at a cost of £100,000 each, when crime is falling overall and jails are full of large numbers of people who do not need to be held there.

Prison needs to be reserved for serious and violent offenders. Only as a place of absolute last resort can prison be expected to work to prevent reoffending and protect the next victim of crime.

The best staff in the best prisons spend much of their time processing petty offenders in and out of the gates and, when they can, repairing some of the harm that incarceration is bound to cause: making people less employable and more likely to be jobless on release, less likely to hold a housing tenancy and more likely to be homeless on release, less able to maintain family links and more likely to be isolated on release.

Prison staff do this vital work not because they have gone soft, but because they know that having a job, a roof over your head and family support are the three most important ways to break the cycle of crime and cut reoffending on release.

As things stand, two out of three people, and three-quarters of all young offenders, reoffend within two years of release from prison - a disaster for public safety and a poor rate of return on spending £41,000 a year on locking them up.

So if prison doesn't work, what does? Most acquisitive crime is fuelled by people stealing to fund drug habits. Residential drug rehabilitation to break an addiction costs £35,000 a year. Work by police and probation officers with prolific offenders, most of whom are addicted to hard drugs, is cutting crime in some areas of the country. Violent crime and public disorder offences are largely driven by hazardous drinking. Far more could be done to address this problem and get offenders into treatment. Prisons have become dumping grounds for the mentally ill, with 5,000 people at any one time waiting for transfer to psychiatric care.

Sensible spending on the three areas of drug, alcohol and mental health treatment would reduce crime and release prison places to be used for serious and violent offenders. Intensive, constructive work with these offenders could change behaviour more effectively than the ever-lengthening sentences served in a range of overcrowded jails is able to. Calling a halt to any unnecessary use of remand and recall would help matters still further.

All it takes is authoritative political leadership that is more interested in protecting victims and solutions to crime than it is in in populist headlines and scaring the public to death.
Iain McKie

What complex questions Karen and ones that prompt many differing responses.

In a fair and just society you would expect there to be a balance kept between prison and other forms of social control.

Perhaps as a society we try harder than most but still almost inevitably come up short.

What is the purpose of prison?

Punishment, deterrence, public safety, rehabilitation, education, class control, security for the power elite etc etc. Take your pick or ‘pic and mix’

In a perfect world those offenders capable of reformation would be reformed and we would be protected from those who weren't.

I would argue that in principle we have a potentially fit for purpose criminal justice system and that our efforts should be aimed at encouraging it to be as effective and efficient as possible. By maintaining a focus on miscarriages of justice we do this.

Unfortunately like many who control justice systems listening is anathema. It makes life too complicated.

Reform or revolution. Can systems be reformed or does the power elite require to be replaced because of its investment in the status quo?

Societies have struggled with this conundrum and will continue to do so. Forum Index -> Test Forum 1
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Sincere thanks to all those who have supported Shirley and challenged miscarriages of justice on this forum.