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Is our criminal justice system working?

(96 Posts)
Iam64 Fri 01-Nov-19 10:17:34

The election thread started by Cari has several comments saying prison is too soft. Ask anyone who has worked in them, or served sentences. No not too soft. We send more people to prison, longer sentences etc than many other European countries. We have cut investment in alternatives that work. That’s my brief starter for ten

NotSpaghetti Sat 02-Nov-19 08:55:17

Is our criminal justice system working?
It certainly isn’t. It should be primarily about rehabilitation then we will eventually have less people there.
If only we made some serious investment into it we would reap massive rewards down the line and fewer lives would be confined to the rubbish bin.

Iam64 Sat 02-Nov-19 09:13:56

Thanks NotSpaghetti. I'd reached the conclusion this subject doesn't interest anyone.

Our prisons are full of men and women who had extremely damaging childhood experiences. We should be developing m.h. services, including support for people with drug and alcohol problems.

Prison sentences should be used for those who are violent and dangerous. I've no problem with long sentences for them but it is both cruel and not cost effective to incarcerate people who would benefit from structured supervision. We used to have a Probation Service where the purpose was to 'advise, assist and befriend'. It was devastated, privatised and recent research concluded it is no longer fit for purpose.

EllanVannin Sat 02-Nov-19 09:17:06

No, it's not working.

Hetty58 Sat 02-Nov-19 09:19:19

Iam64, I'm so glad that you started this discussion. There are so many (ignorant) remarks from people who seem to think that 'longer, tougher' prison sentence will solve everything and reduce the crime statistics!

Urmstongran Sat 02-Nov-19 09:21:18

I’m in 2 minds over this to be honest. I think prison is too soft. Drones bringing drugs, relatives bringing mobile phones! How does that even happen?

Youngsters learning tricks of the trade from old lags.

Radicalisation a big worry for authorities.

I’m not sure even about ‘rehabilitation’. Sorry. It sounds humane and well intentioned but if it was working - why are our prisons ever more over populated?

Why do offenders smirk when sentenced by a judge?

It doesn’t seem a deterrent to me - much.

We should toughen up. Make it more like the Bangkok Hilton - criminals would hate a harsh system. Instead of mollycoddling them, make it something they would hate to go back to!

Urmstongran Sat 02-Nov-19 09:22:40

X posts Hetty58
I guess I’m one of your ignorant posters then ...

Hetty58 Sat 02-Nov-19 09:23:08

Here's the link, as requested Iam64. I really does make me wonder what on Earth we're doing:

ExperiencedNotOld Sat 02-Nov-19 09:38:00

With close family members working as a paramedic and in the police service I’m told that the largest issues are a dysfunctional background coupled with an inability to understand why our society requires us all to live within a set of general rules. Throw in alcohol moving onto widespread drug abuse and there comes the perfect and highly damaging storm. This existence (it’s not any kind of living) traps those that fall foul of the rules. They mostly, due to the lack of reasoned experience, find it almost impossible to break out of the pattern of behaviour that got them there in the first place. And that is due to the paucity of services that could assist. Anyone watching the recent ‘Crime and punishment’ series (ITV?) will have had a shocking realisation that the justice system is at the point of failure. Investment is needed to stop drugs getting into prisons as well as the removal of some ‘rights’ that facilitate such. Photocopy all correspondence. Net down compounds. Mandated detox with anti-drugs medication. What should be done to settled some of the mental health issues is beyond my experience. All of this is something us living a ‘normal’ life will always find almost beyond comprehension.

LondonGranny Sat 02-Nov-19 09:40:38

Prisons are brutal overcrowded places. They are not holiday camps except in the mind of the Daily Mail.

LondonGranny Sat 02-Nov-19 09:41:50

Brilliant podcast link. Thank you!

Urmstongran Sat 02-Nov-19 09:53:18

Thank you for more insight ENO

This whole subject is multi layered, underfunded and complex.

GracesGranMK3 Sat 02-Nov-19 10:12:35

Many truths have been posted on here. I think we could look at somewhere like Norway which has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world, currently 20%. They do NOT have the "lock them up and throw away the key mentality". Norway's prisons are renowned for being some of the best and most humane in the world. It does not have the death penalty or sentence people to life imprisonment. The maximum custodial sentence is 21 years. As opposed to our 'punitive' system (whatever any MP might tell you, it is) their's a "restorative" system. All this came from a pre-1970s recidivism rate of 91%.

I think underfunding is one of our biggest problems. Underfunding at all levels. Our "penalties in society" are underfunded. We impose a social task or tagging and then leave the offender in the same situation as before.

We have closed something like 1,000 Sure Start Centers under the Tories. We have shut libraries and youth centres. And we have cut policing (and please don't tell me the Tories are putting the numbers back up). The chances of getting on a rehabilitation programme have diminished - in Norway rehab is an alternative to prison - and we have extended both poverty and chaotic lives for children.

All these things matter. There isn't really enough room or time to write about it but we have a totally right-wing view of society imposed on us at the moment. This "just" society where, if anything goes wrong it must have been your fault and only you can do anything about it; you will get no help.

It may have been a misquote but since Thatcher "society" has been steadily destroyed. We are on the edge of "no such thing as society". I can think of no other word than "wicked". The governance of our society does not consider people except as workers and wickedly wastes and destroys lives.

Hetty58 Sat 02-Nov-19 10:22:32

For a while, I taught literacy to the unemployed (sent along by the Jobcentre) at a college. Many had been 'inside' and had various difficulties. Some were very damaged individuals, with little chance of ever getting a job - and they knew it.

I said that we'll cover the syllabus, some will find it useful, others, well, we'll play the game, follow the rules and they'll get their JSA.

I remember one saying 'It's alright, Miss, I won't kick off!' when I reminded them that they could just leave the classroom if they ever felt uncomfortable. They were all very wary of one particular individual. I'd been warned never to be alone with him!

I had two (official) 'successes', people who continued in education. We had fun, lots of laughs and jokes. The whole thing was a bit of a joke, really, a prime example of 'too little, too late'!

LondonGranny Sat 02-Nov-19 10:27:37

Not with prisoners but I taught an adult man, in his early forties, how to read and write. I think it was a great achievement, he worked so hard.
I wanted to avoid kids books so I started with the Daily Mirror.

Hetty58 Sat 02-Nov-19 10:39:12

LondonGranny, one of my (official) 'failures' (a father in his forties) thanked me for helping him to understand a bus timetable and a dictionary!

Urmstongran Sat 02-Nov-19 11:11:46

Norway is a huge country with only 5 million people. I wonder if our tiny (by comparison) little island with 67 + million has any bearing on our criminal tendencies? Our cities are crowded, dirty and overpopulated. Drugs are a very real problem with Albanian mafia over here running county lines.

You don’t hear about THAT in Norway!

EllanVannin Sat 02-Nov-19 11:41:08

Crime is highest in Norway from the immigrant population who live there !

GillT57 Sat 02-Nov-19 11:59:40

Hetty58 thank you for posting that very interesting, albeit depressing link, made all the more depressing by some of the comments which followed from people who had read it and still do not understand, people with veiled comments about 'too many people'. I despair. GGMk3, I agree with your comment about the right wing direction that society is heading. I have lived and worked in Norway, and I have spent time with someone who is a very unhappy, well meaning and experienced prison officer, but I am not sure I can be bothered to explain to the 'string 'em up, prison is too soft' brigade on here.

EllanVannin Sat 02-Nov-19 12:22:16

My lengthy post has vanished ! I give up.

GracesGranMK3 Sat 02-Nov-19 13:09:40

I really can't be bothered to answer remarks based on race Umstomgran but I do notice you say nothing about the decimation of our civil society by the Tories.

GracesGranMK3 Sat 02-Nov-19 13:10:53

No Gill, not worth the effort.

lemongrove Sat 02-Nov-19 14:04:23

ExperiencedNotOld ....excellent post.

No, prison isn’t soft, or let me rephrase that, British prisons, though softer than many other countries in the world are still not what I would call soft.Lack of liberty and fear of attack (and rape )in male prisons is hardly a holiday camp situation.
There are attacks in female prisons too, and bullying.
There are many crimes that simply shouldn’t have prison sentences attached to them.
A young man with ADHD has been imprisoned in Pentonville
( he got six months) for climbing a tall building in London.

MissAdventure Sat 02-Nov-19 14:15:41

I definitely think sentencing needs to be reformed.

I watched tv yesterday, I think, and saw someone sentenced to 38 months in prison for killing someone due to reckless, drug driving.

LondonGranny Sat 02-Nov-19 14:23:28

It's not sentencing that needs changing, it's the law around drivers who kill. Judges have their hands tied As things stand the maximum sentence for burglary is the same as for death by dangerous driving.