Date: Mon 10th October 2011
Last week Justice Secretary Ken Clarke announced that the Government is to fundamentally overhaul our prison system by ensuring that prisoners work during their sentence rather than sitting idle. Several large firms have been keen to support prisoners in work and by 2020 the Justice Secretary wants to see 20,000 inmates working to raise money to compensate victims of their crimes. These are all measures that should be warmly welcomed, and are deserving of the publicity they have received.
If we are going to be tough on criminals we also need to be tough on reoffending. We cannot allow for prisons to simply house offenders until the day they are released. We have to take the chance prison sentences give to us to change the behaviour of the prisoner. This behaviour will not change if we simply lock an offender up at the beginning of their sentence and then let them out at the end. We need to work with offenders and rehabilitate where possible.
Prison cannot be seen as an easy ride. All too often the victims of crime do not feel that justice has been done. They see no evidence of the perpetrator being punished and sadly are often not their first victim. Prison must remain a deterrent but not merely a holding pen for criminals, where no thought has been given to preventing them from re-offending. This surely has to be the way to protect the public and minimise the number of future victims of crime.