See the latest entry, JUNE 21st 2011

Prison should be used to house those who have proved they are a threat to society and are not willing or able to reform.
The length of sentence should not be, as it is now, a measure of punishment.
Instead, release from prison should be conditional.
That would mean that some individuals would never be released.
It would be an aim of the system to reduce that number to an absolute minimum.
Every individual should have their case evaluated at least annually.

Non violent prisoners may be released when they have:

a. Completed the tasks set for them to give them a chance of living outside prison.
b. Acknowledged their behavioural errors that led to their sentence
c. Managed to get a retrial or a reversal of their conviction.

If the above are true, then if there is an additional punishment or restitution required, that can be completed outside.
Until (a) and either (b) or (c) above is true, they must remain in prison, however (b) may be problematic in the case where a prisoner is genuinely unrepentant or knows the conviction is flawed. The prisoner must accept the punishment and the law but may retain the opinion that he or she was acting unlawfully with justification.

The method of incarceration and care in prison must be completely changed, making it hugely more efficient and the cost per inmate cut by 75%.  It must be an environment where the corruption of one inmate by another is eliminated. That means that social intercourse must be in regulated enviroments as in a school for young persons.

This is perfectly possible. The way some of our prisons are run now is just ridiculous.

Naturally we would have to build a great many new prisons. The only unpleasant thing about them for inmates should be the lack of liberty and the possibility of experiencing lfe as a free individual. Some of the liberties now enjoyed should be removed. All of the unpleasantness now inflicted should cease. In brief, life in prison and the length of incarceration must be CONDITIONAL. A social contract with prisoners, as distinct from but related to the social contract outside, is required.

JANUARY 25th 2007

The UK prisons are full because there are many people in prison who should not be, or do not need to be, in them. [see Jan 30th]

Some are neither a physical or significant moral danger to to the public.

They are in prison because we have not devised another means of administering a punishment that simultaneously deters them from reoffending and assists them in avoiding reoffending.

They cannot be fined as they have no effectively or fairly seizable assets. Many cannot be rehabilitated outside confinement as they would disappear or because there are not enough qualified people to undertake their rehabilitation, which may require intensive personal attention.

Until we can devise a method to achieve this, we need to build more secure establishments and engage and train qualified staff to rehabilitate all those who apply for rehabilitation. Those who do not, and those who are estimated to be a danger to the public, should remain in prison.

To build and staff prisons is not something that can be done at a rate which can be arbitrarily chosen. Planning permission, in the face of local objections, is not easy to obtain. Every prison that is opened has to have trained prison staff. Rehabilitation can only be carried out by qualified professionals. In a country that has difficulty in its schools teaching its children to read, write, spell and speak, this is not something that can be done by just throwing money at it. We do not run a command economy.

Then we have foreign nationals, some of whom have arrived and stayed illegally, often to escape a hopeless situation in their country of provenance, who have fallen foul of the law  by trying to survive without a legitimate means of support.

In today's world, running Britain's gaols is no picnic.

In this context, the fact that a judge today gave a suspended 6 month gaol sentence to a man who had downloaded pornographic pictures of children from the Internet is hardly remarkable. The likelyhood of this man, pictured on prime time television today with his wife or partner, of reoffending in the near future is virtually zero, certainly less than if he had served a 6 month prison sentence and as result lost his house, job, partner and anything else that applies.

Having a go at John Reid may give some people pleasure, but only those who have not the slightest idea of what he, and all of us, are up against.

There is, in spite of published statistics, an increasing crime rate due to scocial and economic failures and pressures. At the same time there has been put in place a policy to counter this in advance by stricter law enforcement. Result - a rapid rise in prison population. Because the supposed deterrent effect has not matched the increased socio-economic pressures, particularly in the case of young offenders, the demand for prison places and services has exceeded the planned increase in supply.  There is no solution acceptable to the public other than an increased provision of prisons, detention centres and staff. The public in its other hats obstructs this process.

Resignation adds to Reid pressure
Pressure on home secretary John Reid has increased after it emerged the head of the Youth Justice Board (YJB), Professor Rod Morgan, has quit.

Prof Morgan attacked Labour's young offenders policy and said children's prisons were being "swamped".

Mr Reid is already under pressure after calling for judges to avoid jailing all but the most serious offenders in a bid to ease prison overcrowding.

A judge said he did not jail a man who had downloaded child porn as a result.

In an exclusive interview given to BBC Two's Newsnight, Prof Morgan, said youth courts and children's prisons are being "swamped" with minor offenders who are "cluttering up" the system.


Echoing the crisis with adult prisoner places, he told Newsnight "we're standing on the brink of a prisons crisis. We have tonight lots of people in police cells because there is no space for them in custody and that's true for children and young people also.

"I regard a 26% increase in the number of children and young people that are being drawn into the system in the past three years as swamping", he said.

Prof Morgan became Chair of the Youth Justice Board in April 2004.

He was formerly HM Chief Inspector of Probation for England and Wales, a post he took up in August 2001.

Porn sentence

Mr Morgan's resignation follows opposition attacks on the home secretary over a child pornography case.

Derek Williams, 46, of Blaenau Ffestiniog, told the BBC he was "lucky to be out" but added: "You cannot blame the judge for what he has done. His hands are tied. He was only doing his job."

His six-month term of imprisonment was suspended for two years.

Mold Crown Court heard Williams had downloaded dozens of pornographic images of children on to his computer.

He pleaded guilty to 10 charges of making indecent photographs between November 2005 and May last year.

In sentencing Judge John Rogers QC said he had to bear in mind "the current sentencing climate".

This week, Mr Reid and other Cabinet ministers wrote to judges and magistrates asking them to imprison only the most dangerous and persistent criminals.

Prison ships

And on Thursday Mr Reid announced the latest emergency measures to deal with the prison crisis.

Jails in England and Wales are at bursting point, with about 80,000 inmates.

Mr Reid revealed an RAF camp in the north of England is to be used to house convicts, and he is also in negotiations over the purchase of two prison ships.

Construction has also started on prefabricated units to go into a prison in Merseyside.

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, said the letter to judges was not intended to change sentencing principles, but to set out the current context.

Lord Falconer said the judges were not being put under pressure to alleviate prison over-crowding.

"It is our problem....We are not for one moment saying that it is a problem for judges to solve. We are all doing our bit in the system to help in the current circumstances."

'Public confidence'

Shadow home secretary David Davis said of the sentencing: "We now have a situation where sentences are being dictated by the prison capacity and not the severity of the crime.

"It looks like the consequences of the government's failure to address the lack of prison places is coming home to roost."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said: "This is the inevitable domino effect of a government lurching about in blind panic trying to solve a prison overcrowding crisis of its own making."