Clarke warns courts not to send offenders to custody if prisons are full

    Prison sentences will be linked to whether there are enough
    prison places for the first time under measures proposed in the
    Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill, it emerged today,
    writes Maria Ahmed.

    Judges will be expected to consider the state of prisons and the
    numbers of people already in them when deciding whether to send
    offenders to custody or give them a community sentence, under
    guidance issued by new Home Secretary Charles Clarke.

    The Bill also includes a proposal to extend the use of
    electronic monitoring for offenders on community sentences and
    bail, and polygraph tests for sex offenders on license.

    A new day fine scheme is to be introduced to “help restore
    confidence” in the use of the fine as an “effective and
    credible punishment.”

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