Sunday, May 15, 2005

Top judge says crowded prisons cannot break cycle of crime

UK: Reoffending rates after a prison sentence are at an "unacceptably high level" and the failure of the criminal justice system to stop prisoners reoffending should shock the public, England's top judge, [Ruling Class] Lord Woolf, said last week.

The [ruling class] lord chief justice's comments came within days of a call by Paul Kernaghan, chief constable of Hampshire, for judges to send more offenders to prison for the protection of the public.

Mr Kernaghan claimed that judges and magistrates seemed more concerned with the needs of criminals than of their victims, and were refusing to lock up serial offenders.

But [ruling class] Lord Woolf said: "Fourteen years ago the prison population was 42,000 and falling, while today it is 76,000 and forecast to rise. This is apparently wholly contradictory to public perceptions that courts are unduly lenient.

"What perhaps should come as a shock to the public is how unsuccessful we have been at preventing reoffending.

"The cost of reoffending by ex-prisoners is £11bn per year and the incidence of reoffending after the completion of a sentence is at an unacceptably high level."

He said jail overcrowding prevented the prison service from implementing education and rehabilitation programmes which helped ex-offenders get jobs and turn away from crime. So sending more offenders to prison put the public more at risk from reoffending.

Delivering the Leon Radzinowicz lecture at the opening of a new building for the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University, [ruling class] Lord Woolf called for "greater sense" in sentencing to improve public Confidence and make the criminal justice system more effective.

That meant halting the continuing rise in the use of prison and instead reserving detention primarily for the most serious offences, particularly violent and dangerous offenders.

The broad range of community punishments had to be made meaningful so that they prevented reoffending and inspired confidence in the public, he said. Drug and other substance abuse testing and training must also be provided and there must be more reliance on properly enforced fines.

[Ruling class] Lord Woolf made a plea to ministers to avoid further legislation except where absolutely necessary, to let the courts and the National Offender Management Service absorb changes already made. Judges had to undergo a big training programme before the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which contains a huge number of sentencing reforms, came into force last month.

The [ruling class] lord chief justice also called for more resources for rehabilitation and preventing reoffending as well as for detecting and deterring crime.

Inmates [prisoners] of overcrowded prisons were less able to earn reasonable sums from paid employment or pursue educational courses. This reduced their ability to pay compensation to victims of crime or to turn away from reoffending.

"If an offender is returned to society at the end of his sentence with increased skills, a job to go to and accommodation, the risk of that offender reoffending is significantly reduced."

The prospects of breaking the cycle of reoffending were better because the government had recognised that short prison sentences for less serious offences were "not constructive and should be regarded as a last resort."

By Clare Dyer posted 15 May 05


All the World's a Prison: History
No doubt many of my readers, even those who are well-educated or widely read, think that the prison -- the place where dark deeds are darkly answered[2] -- is an ancient institution, a barbaric hold-over from barbaric times. In fact, the prison is of relatively recent origin, and this tells us a great deal about the pretentions and realities of modern times, and the wisdom and high degree of development of the ancients.

Decade after inspector left in disgust, report tells of filth
UK: Dirty, mice-infested cells, high levels of self-harm, and widespread bullying over drugs and medications were just some of the damning findings of a report into conditions at Holloway, Britain's largest women's prison.

Most women 'should not be jailed'
Women make up 6% of the prison population in England and Wales. Imprisonment of women should be "virtually abolished", a prison reform group has said.

Youth 'murdered for officers' pleasure'
UK: An Asian teenager was murdered by a white racist after they were placed in the same cell as part of a game to fulfil the "perverted pleasure" of prison officers, a public inquiry heard on Friday.

Deaths in isolation as prison segregation increases
The use of segregation [solitary confinement] of prisoners as punishment has been increasing recently in Australia, the US, and the UK. Segregation can be used for protection or punishment, but in both cases it results in extreme psychological stress. An indication that segregation is being over-used is the appearance of deaths in custody from suicide of those placed in segregation.

Inquest blames jail for overdose death
UK: An inquest jury returned a verdict itemising a catalogue of faults at Styal prison in Cheshire, concluding that the prison's "failure of duty of care" contributed to the death of Sarah Campbell, 18, who took an overdose of tablets on the first day of her three-year sentence.

Put in the way of self-harm in a place intended to protect others
UK: Sarah Campbell, 18, spent the last hours of her life in the segregation unit of Styal prison, Cheshire. "The seg", as those places are referred to, used to be known as "the block", short for punishment block. [ Seg is a bullshit word for Punishment, Solitary Confinement, Torture, Mental Illness, Self-Harm, Human Rights Abuse and that is State Terror.]

Britain 'sliding into police state'
The home secretary, Charles Clarke, is transforming Britain into a police state, one of the country's former leading anti-terrorist police chiefs [false flag police chiefs] said yesterday.

UK solitary confinement
UK: Segregation units are prisons within prisons - the places where the most unchecked brutality is meted out to prisoners. In recent years conditions in high security segregation units have deteriorated, and the use of long-term segregation as a control mechanism has increased.

Inquiry must root out prison racists
UK: It is difficult to imagine a more brutal murder than that of Zahid Mubarek. The 19-year-old was clubbed to death by his cellmate at Feltham Young Offender Institution in the early hours of 21 March 2000. He was due to be released just a few hours later.

Prison suicides soar as jails hire 'babysitters'
UK: Prison officers are being taken off suicide watch and replaced by unqualified 'babysitters' because the system is overwhelmed by an epidemic of self-harm.

Plan to sell off juvenile jails as job lot
UK: The government is to put out to tender all its dedicated juvenile jails that hold children under 18 in a departure in Whitehall's privatisation programme.

Failure to sack 'racist' prison staff condemned
UK: Two prison officers suspended for racism are still on full pay three years after a stash of Nazi memorabilia, neo-fascist literature and Ku Klux Klan-inspired 'nigger-hunting licences' was found in a police raid on their home.

Report slams 'unjust' jailing of women on remand
UK: Six out of 10 women sent to jail while they await trial are acquitted or given a non-custodial sentence, a report published today reveals. Introducing the report, Lady Kennedy QC calls for a complete review of the use of remand and bail for women saying it is "inhumane and unjust".

Concern as UK prison suicides hit record level
UK: More prisoners took their own lives in English jails in August than in any other month since records began, prison reformers said today.

End of years of despair as Holloway closes its doors
But now Holloway prison in north London - where Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in Britain, was hanged in 1955 - has been earmarked for closure, along with several other women's prisons, which have been hit by a spate of suicides.

How detox and self-help brought suicide jail back from the brink
UK: Six suicides in 12 months made Styal jail notorious and the Prisons Ombudsman criticised the prison and its staff for serious failures. But things are changing.

Belmarsh detainees consider suicide, says freed man
UK: The first of the Muslim detainees released from Belmarsh high security prison after being held on suspicion of terrorism has told the Guardian his fellow prisoners are suffering such severe mental problems that they constantly consider suicide.

Suicides and unrest have soared, admits Home Office
UK:The already overcrowded prison population is set to go on rising and will top 80,000 within the next three years, a senior Home Office civil servant warned yesterday.

England tops the EU in imprisonment
England and Wales jail more offenders per capita than any other European, Union country, according to new figures.