Short prison sentences are ineffective, warns thinktank

Short prison sentences do “very little” to control
crime and fail to engage offenders in effective rehabilitation,
according to a report published today, writes Maria

An independent inquiry headed by Lord Coulsfield called for a
sentencing framework which “embraced” alternatives to
custody wherever possible.

The report commissioned by thinktank Rethinking Crime and
Punishment criticised the government for sending out “mixed
messages” about sentencing to the courts and the public.

The inquiry said while the government wanted to reduce the
prison population, it was introducing policies and legislation that
had an “opposite effect.”

Director of crime reduction campaign SmartJustice, Lucie
Russell, welcomed the recommendations.

She added: “Short jail sentences do not turn offenders
into law-abiding citizens because they neither rehabilitate nor
deter them from committing further crimes. If it is serious about
reducing crime, the government needs to invest in well-managed
community penalties as well as tackling the reasons people are
offending in the first place.

“Local communities should be at the heart of delivering
these solutions by taking a greater role in deciding how offenders
should pay back to society for the damage they have


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