Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s proposals to expand community supervision, Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:

“These proposals are an admission of the abject failure of short-term prison sentences, with 58 per cent of those leaving custody after a short sentence being reconvicted within a year. The public deserve a value-for-money system based around what works to keep us safe. The fact is that community sentences have a reconviction rate of just 34 per cent and come at a tenth of the cost, while short spells in prison make people worse and cause more crime and more victims of crime.

“These plans set people up to fail. Rather than scrapping short prison terms, the government is creating disproportionate sentences for minor crimes, so that a two-week prison sentence becomes a year and two weeks of being trapped in the criminal justice system. Given short spells in prison leave most people without a job, home or access to their family, the additional support can do little more than try to repair the damage prison has done and many will end up back behind bars.

Cell Bars by Andrew Bardwell

Cell Bars by Andrew Bardwell

“Perhaps most concerning of all is how the government is acting like it has an infinite pot of money for this scheme at a time when the Ministry of Justice is supposed to be saving billions over the next few years. It’s high time that ministers address the fact that the prison population has doubled in the past two decades and bring it back to a manageable level. By flogging the dead horse of short-term prison sentences, the government is missing an opportunity to build a more affordable justice system that will better keep the public safe.”

Image By Andrew Bardwell from Cleveland, Ohio, USA (Jail Cell) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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