Prisons and punishment - social justice

 http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Action-to-reduce-reoffending-1d09.aspx  The article informs "Between 9-10,000 people serving short term sentences leave custody every year and this group accounts for the highest number of people who go on to re-offend."

 

I would question this statistic on two premises: why are people going to prison on short-term custodial sentences in the first instance - this has a quantifiable cost burden to the tax payer and the presumption is that if the issue is short-term why are they not being processed as a "benefit" in society. The mantra should be "CRIME DOES NOT PAY" and it costs £31,000 to keep a person in prison for a year in Scotland. Under the Welfare Reforms a person who has committed NO CRIME is processed between £5,000 to a maximum of £23,000 cap – there is therefore an apparent social justice issue - that if you commit crime with a custodial sentence in Scotland it has a value more than that of a person on welfare who have not committed any crime - people may therefore have a reason to commit crime and reoffend - such as three square meals a day, a roof over their head, a wash and lifestyle in Broadstairs Marriott! Or Carstairs Hilton!! The mantra should be if you commit a criminal offence "YOU PAY US" - (a) fines even £3 a week plus; (b) community payback as punishment plus; and (c) asset stripping via the Proceeds of Crime Act - that way the message "CRIME DOES NOT PAY - SO WHAT's THE POINT IN REOFFENDING gets through. We may not be processing crime in a 21st century way but on an 18th century model.

 

 

The second point I would make is that I am aware of a statistic which may relate in some part to Scotland - that New Labour (Tony Blair ex-PM) caused 3000 pages of criminal law to be placed on the statute books. Whilst I was aware of this stat concerning England, it may be a UK wide stat. I am therefore questioning what kind of offences are causing short term custodial sentences and why did New Labour criminalise the peoples of at least England and potentially Scotland.   He increased the prison population to 80,000 and John Reid -ex MP even discussed prison ships. Can you therefore take a look at the Scottish Stats and see what exactly was put on the statute books of Scotland, thereby criminalising people in short term custodial sentences: in that regard we don't appear to be criminalising bankers! Or Tony Blair for misconduct in public office – the Iraq war was “unjust”!!!!  Concerning this exercise, if there is an issue that their being a codification exercise to remove criminal offences altogether or to non-custodial measures referred above.

 

 

My point of view is that only violent crime should mean prison.  Non-violent crime should never be custodial as there is an issue of social justice concerning people who do not commit crime. It is clear that imprisonment for short-term custodial sentences needs a rethink as 9,000-10,000 people are reoffending and therefore not getting the message to stop criminal behaviour or that certain people are being specifically targeted for certain types of behaviour and are never out of the system or are easy targets for crime stats in specific areas – possibly poverty issue too: so there is a need to look at causation and effect, an eg would be homelessness. So for instance, asking the Judiciary for their sentencing stats might indicate what is actually occurring in Society concerning short-term custodial sentences and what type of offences are causing the bulk of the 9,000-10,000 stats.

 

The article informs "The Justice Secretary said:

 

“Reoffending creates victims, damages communities, wastes potential and costs the Scottish economy around £3 billion every year.

 

“Tackling reoffending is a key part of this government’s justice strategy and we have already made good progress in this area. The reconviction rate in Scotland is now at its lowest level for 16 years and recorded crime is at a 41 year low. We have a vision of justice in Scotland where people are held to account for their offending and are then supported to be active and responsible members of society. "

 

I agree with the Justice Secretary's representation. A £3 billion spend on people who have committed a crime is to deprive people who have NOT committed a crime of £3 billion in public services. This could be funds to enhance deprived communities; alleviate poverty amongst Scottish children; roads, potholes and gritting, library books, street lighting, play parks; process the Homeless and provide affordable housing measures; enable people to access justice via the Legal Aid fund and my favourite ensure that there are adequate funds and bureaus available via the Citizen Advice Bureau service and that the service is not functioning on a shoestring in buildings that make do and mend.

Why the contribution is important

Social justice

by Lesley on October 10, 2018 at 08:14PM

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