19 November 2007

On Punishment & Rehabilitation

Coinciding with the death after 55 years in jail of John Straffen, Britain's longest serving prisoner, at the age of 77, there was an interesting piece on the Today programme this morning about a cleaning firm in Birmingham that is training prisoners to help them find work on release. I've tried to find a few more details online, but can only locate a report from March 2005 describing a similar scheme in south Wales. With the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, last week criticising the government's sentencing policy for contributing to the problem of prison overcrowding, and knowing that 64% of those released from custody and 61% of those placed on probation are convicted of another crime within two years, perhaps now would be a good time to reconsider alternative options, such as tough community sentences†, that not only protect the public but also improve the reparation and rehabilitation of offenders.

† Not to mention more appropriate treatment for drug abusers and the mentally ill.
See also: Justice: Retributive or Restorative? and Prisons Need Inner Change