Monday, August 31, 2009

It is time to invest in people who have no stake in society

Dear All

The facts speak for themselves; three-quarters of offenders who are sentenced to a short spell in prison are reconvicted within two years of their release.

So, how do you solve a problem like repeat offender?

If a person has nothing then it is no loss to suffer a spell in prison. People who have no stake in society don’t hold the same values as the rest of us. For these people, there is no tomorrow, just today.

The stats paint a damning report, 74% of those jailed for six months or less were reconvicted compare that to just over 40% for those given fines or community sentences.

So, although community service works, it doesn’t work effectively enough, massive room for improvement but it is better than prison. Crime is a ping pong ball for political parties; it is an annual election slogan, ‘tough on crime’.

But what we have seen is that the Tory and Labour approach has failed but that is what they want, the want to use crime as a stick to control the population.

The Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill has said the figures proved short sentences did not work but by the same token community services need to be upgraded as well.

It appears that on the law and order front there is confusion of how to win the war on crime, with Labour saying short sentences should be retained for some crimes. The fact is that the prison estate is being cluttered up with idiots who repeat offend with petty crime like shoplifting etc.

It costs about £32k a year to keep a person in prison and for that expense there is no return, it is by all accounts a serious failure that needs to be addressed.

We need a multi level approach to turn round offenders, education, opportunities, and training, we need to have these people in a system that delivers hope and a future.

This means that the probation service needs to be dramatically overhauled and parts of the law rewritten.

These people are trapped so they need a fresh start to allow them to put their past behind them.

If we are willing to spend £32k a year to keep a person locked up surely we should be willing to spend to get them a future with the added bonus of them being a good citizen and a taxpayer?

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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