Should short prison sentences be abolished?

Scrapping prison sentences of less than 12 months could save the country millions. But will the move bring about a of other problems? Have your say now...

It is an issue that continues to divde the nation: Should short-term prison sentences be abolished to reduce the country’s £2.2billion prisons budget, allowing more money to be spent on rehabilitation?

Prison governors believe so. In a coordinated move, the Prison Governors Association of Probation Officers and National Association of Probation Officers issued a joint statement last night, calling for fewer short sentences burglars, motor offenders and drunken yobs.

‘Providing funds to build additional prisons is not the way forward,’ said the PGA.

‘Reducing the prison population by appropriate use of properly funded community disposal is.’

The announcement comes just a week after Justice Secretary Ken Clarke suggested millions could be saved from the current £2.2billion prisons budget by jailing fewer offenders.

Furthermore, statistics reveal that 74% of convicts who served less than 12 months in jail were reconvicted within two years.

But for many, keeping thousands of criminals on the streets rather than behind bars, could spell disaster. As critics put it, felons can’t offend while in custody – giving respite to their victims.

David Green, director of the Civitas think tank, said the higher reconviction rate for short-term offenders showed they were not actually being jailed for long enough. Longer jail terms would give staff more time to change behaviour.

So, should the country be spending more money on rehabilitation programmes that provide convicts with advice, support and opportunities to change? Or should individuals who break the law be temporarily removed from society and punished with imprisonment?

How will victims feel knowing their offenders are back on the street immediately after? Perhaps you yourself are a victim of crime and have a strong opinion on this polarising issue

Whatever your belief, however strong, Marie Claire would like to hear form today by posting your comment blow.


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