21 June 2007

Prisons Need Inner Change

Graph showing prison overcrowding in England and Wales 1994-2006 [Credit: BBC]Earlier this week Lord Falconer announced that as many as 25,000 prisoners will be released early due to prison overcrowding in England and Wales, as though this will somehow help the Government to be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime."

The fact is Labour has failed when it comes to crime: Our prison population is now the highest in Western Europe (having doubled since 1993, approximately 147 people out of every 100,000 are now in prison in England and Wales) and two thirds of prisoners are reconvicted within two years of being released. Just last month the Lord Chancellor told the Probation Board Association, "The challenge we face is that of how to turn the offender into the citizen ... by giving people a future to follow, they can leave their past behind," yet it seems every month we hear about another prisoner released on licence who has gone on to rape or murder.

What a pity then that politically correct concerns about diversity last year forced the closure of a voluntary pilot project called "Inner Change" in Dartmoor Prison. The programme, discussed briefly on the Today programme just after eight-thirty this morning, originated in the States and is accredited with reducing reoffending from 55% to just 8%.

The problem with the programme, for all its potential and promise of success, was it didn't satisfy this Government's liberal agenda. It was criticised by the Prison Service's Area Psychologist, who thought its belief that "the root of offending is in individual sin" "lacks basis in specific scientific research" and its promotion of the virtues of heterosexual marriage was "discriminatory."

In this Orwellian society in which we now find ourselves, I hadn't realised that NewLabour had introduced a form of NewSpeak, where "tough" means "reckless," "diversity" means "uniformity," "tolerance" means "intolerance," "inclusive" means "exclusive," and "multi-faith" means "anti-Christian." Once again, I find myself wondering whether our whole approach to justice is fundamentally wrong.


The Stonemason said...

At the heart of the concept of individual sin lies the thought that we are responsible for our actions; this gives a dignity to human life, that bruised and damaged though we may be by the circumstances of our genetic make-up or upbringing, we are to stil ultimately the masters of our destiny, able to choose between right and wrong actions.
The current way of thinking, that we are inherently good creatures, but damaged victims of our environment, living in an amoral universe, diminishes human dignity and leads to two extreme forms of 'justice'. On the one hand we will have the guiltless criminal who is more to be pitied and helped than punished and restored; and on the other hand we will have the incorrigible criminal (the paedophile?) who should be captured before he does anything wrong and either locked away for ever or perhaps shot.
Lord preserve us!

Anonymous said...

There was an interesting item on a Radio 4 news programme ('Today' I think) this week with one of their US reporters having interviewed prisoners on an Inner Change programme. The report was prompted by efforts of some to prevent US government money being used to fund Inner Change as, in their view, it breached the separation of the state from religion. The conclusion was that, whatever people might think about Christian faith, Inner Change was effective and was not an easy option for the prisoners who chose to join the programme. The prisoners did not have to be Christians or become Christians but they were clearly told it was unashamedly Christian.

It seems madness to slam the door on something which has proved to be so effective when success rates for other interventions are much lower. Prison on its own is more likely to damage further rather than reform. A policy of permanently locking up anyone who repeatedly breaks the law is dehumanising (for society as well as the individuals) and far too expensive. I am fascinated to know why the Inner Change opponents are so upset by it?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Inner Changes most vehement opponants are not just anti-christian but find a system of values which they revile fulfilling their own aims more effectivly than they have been able to.

That a programme which is essentially about resocialiation of people who have become pathologically distant from other others through inner transformation could only be valid if it were founded in theories of scientific rigour is a preposterous suggestion. It is surely a proposition lacking the rigour it demands of others.

Anonymous said...

Prison needs an inner change and an outer change, prison looks weak when it shouldn’t. The punishment of being in prison is weak meaning when they get out they’ll commit more crimes. For the criminals that live in the street’s is good going to jail because they don’t need to pay to get food, food is free in prison. Lord Falconer announced that as many as 25,000 prisoners will be released early due to prison overcrowding in England and Wales, that needs to change.

Buy Cialis said...

25,000 prisoners is a big number, I think that it is the problem, we have to have a lower number may be 10,000!!The problem with the programme is the it is so old and it does not help in any way !!It is moss-grown!22dd