Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Number of re-offenders in Scotland hits 10-year high, political dogma ‘tough on crime’ rules and the failure is all too apparent

Dear All

The number of people who re-offended within two years of a conviction has reached its highest level in a decade.

This is unacceptable and further highlights that when people have no stake in society, they don’t feel the need to obey society’s laws.

It also flags up that the piecemeal strategy of rehabilitation hasn’t worked.

Some people are caught in a cycle of crime because they have no hope, no aspiration and no future.

They are shut out of entire areas of society because of previous behaviour.

Crime is one of the hot political topics, for politicians want to be seen as ‘tough on crime’.

Sadly as the latest statistics published by government show this is area of failure, of the 53,260 people convicted in the courts in 2006/07, 23,419 re-offended.

An encompassing strategy is needed to keep these people out of trouble which has to stretch beyond the prison gates.

People with chaotic lifestyles need extra help because we have to help them recover the mindset of getting them to think about what they are doing instead of reacting.

60% of people jailed for a crime went on to re-offend within two years.

And that figure gets worse when you factor in 72% for those handed jail terms of less than three months.

Community service is a good solution because it takes people out of their current situation and opens up new avenues of what life might be if they changed.

It isn’t the community-based punishment per se that is effective at cutting reconviction rates; it is the mental processes that occur while doing it.

Having changed their mindset, what follows next is important and to that end there needs to be changes both in law and practically on the ground.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 needs to be revisited.

Unless society and that means politicians are willing change then they will by default allow the cycle of crime to continue.

Prison doesn’t work.

Add to that the cost £32,000 a year to keep someone warehoused and stick on the loss of revenue and tax of them not earning and leading a normal life.

Everyone sitting in prison locked up generates no money for the economy.

So investing in these people to get a useful citizen who has a future isn’t a wishy washy idea but sound financial sense.

While politicians use crime for ping pong politics nothing will change to any great degree and we have already seen that the ‘war on drugs’ has been a failure.

It really is time for something new and radical.

Society has to give these people a meaningful stake in it.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having come from a background where crime was part of my life from a very early age, i still have to live with the stigma of having a criminal record.
From the age of 15 up til 32, (Im now 44), i was in and out of institutions for low level crime.
I am not and never have been proud of my lifetime of crime but during my periods of time inside i was taught nothing and to me there was no reason to think that rehabilitation worked, or indeed does work to this day.
Prison is a revolving door for many people, many of whom come from chaotic backgrounds, such as drugs and drink.
The goverment will never ever get to the root problem of people offending and for some the prison doors are the only way of escape.
People re-offend and a lot do so for prison is the only place they feel safe, a bed three meals a day, gymnasium, health care, and all the other perks they get in prison.
Rehabilitation is a subject which will be debated for years to come and big changes both within and outwith the prison/judicial system need to change.

Most prions are an academy of crime.
They help prisoners go out better equipted on how to commit even more serious crimes and that is whay its a revolving door to many.
More education and more work related programmes need to be introduced within priosn as being locked in a cell 23 hrs a day is time to plot and plan what your next venture is going to be.
More help needs to be available within the prison system for prisoners who have addictions such as drugs and alcohol because if they cant get help and tackle their problems whilst inside, then there is no hope for them on release. More money has to plowed into the prison system to make it work because if you cant help them inside, you aint toing to help them outside.