The ‘prisons work’ myth debunked

Dominic Fisher of the Prague Tory is spitting feathers yet again over a scandal he thinks he’s uncovered. Horror of horrors, Cherie Booth is a Howard League Ambassador for Penal Reform, which implies to Dominic (although I suspect Ms Booth would happily plead guilty on this count) that she believes we should use prison less.

While there is little doubt that prison works on a limited and temporary basis (i.e. offenders can only victimise each other once inside) more than half of offenders commit more crime on release, having failed to learn their lesson.

A criminal justice system should punish in proportion to the crime, but remember that no punishment can undo a crime. Meanwhile, to put your faith in punishment as a deterrent is to put your faith in the rationality of drug users and the mentally unstable and to forget that those healthy criminals almost certainly committed their crime in the expectation of getting away with it.

But the biggest barrier to prison working is that a crime has to be committed before it can be invoked; a criminal justice policy with prison at its heart assumes law enforcement and crime prevention are doomed to fail.

3 thoughts on “The ‘prisons work’ myth debunked

  1. “But the biggest barrier to prison working is that a crime has to be committed before it can be invoked; a criminal justice policy with prison at its heart assumes law enforcement and crime prevention are doomed to fail.”

    Ah, so you have a totalitarian view of society? People should be PREVENTED from committing crime. So how are you going to prevent me from killing my wife? Spy on me every day? What if I have no intention of killing my wife but my neighbour is going to have sex with his daughter? Best spy on him to.

    We live in a FREE SOCIETY which means people have the freedom to commit crime. But where people are shown to have abused their personal freedom by infringing the rights of others, we use the criminal justice system to deal with it. And the way we deal with it is to put them in prison.

    “A criminal justice system should punish in proportion to the crime”. Why? Why punish at all? You have already admitted that they are off their head on drugs most of them. What would punishment achieve? Best to keep them off the streets for as long as possible – but no need to be harsh. Keep them off the streets, away from the ladies and inadvertent fatherhood, away from the opportunity to commit further crime or influencing others to commit futher crime. And remember – prison reforms the half that DO learn from their mistakes. For the rest it is no more than a care home….

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