More crime figures !

Prison – does it work ? (and the debate goes on and on !)

Ever since I can remember this debate has gone backwards and forwards, and data, surveys and statistics are rolled out to support one side of the argument or the other, or one side of the political agenda or other. Maybe I’m just getting old and cynical !

So, let’s trot out the latest survey and the typical reactions that go with it. As many readers will know, Ken Clarke, the current justice Secretary, has publicly stated that too many people are in prison, he doesn’t think it works in many cases, and… it’s too expensive. On the other hand, no politician wants to be seen as “soft on crime”. Here’s a summary of what’s been said this week :-

  • Offenders released from longer sentences commit fewer crimes after being released than those serving shorter jail terms, the Ministry of Justice says with only 30% of offenders given sentences of between 2-4  years offending again but about 10% more of offenders with shorter sentences of 1-2 years reoffend within a year.
  • The other side of the argument states that separate figures show reoffending rates are lower with community penalties than short prison terms. For 2008, research shows community orders and suspended sentences had lower reoffending rates than those sentenced to less than 12 months in jail. In all, 38.6% of criminals given suspended sentences reoffended, compared with 47.4% jailed for less than 12 months.  51.1% of criminals given community orders reoffended, compared with 59.4 per cent of similar offenders who were jailed for less than 12 months.

What’s that phrase…. ? Lies, damn lies and statistics ……