A look at why and whether prison works as an answer to all serious crimes

Theft crimes, for example, rise and fall with unemployment, but that's only one of many factors. Trouble sometimes begins with birth into environments of physical, sexual, or substance abuse, criminal activity, divorce, head injuries, poverty and ignorance. But none of those precursors causes crime. Most people with those disadvantages do not become criminals.

A look at why and whether prison works as an answer to all serious crimes

Instead of Prisons Chapter 2

Share via Email The reception block at Pentonville Prison late one afternoon last week, as the Group 4 security vans arrive from court. In the gloomy yellow corridors, the stench of old vomit, mixed with cigarettes, is overpowering.

Thirty men, haggard and bewildered, are already penned in the plateglass-fronted holding pen, queueing to use the two telephones. In one corner, a scabby-faced man of 28 - he looks much older - trembles uncontrollably: He wanted to be sent to prison, because he knows that here he will get a methadone prescription.

I've been trying to come off for two years.

Crime: Myths & realities

I'd rather be doing detox here than out on the streets, using drugs. Pentonville - with 45, separate prisoner movements in and out of reception each year - is the busiest jail in Europe.

Last week, after a brief dip around Christmas, the result of the Government's extension of electronic tagging, the prison population of England and Wales stood at 71, almost back to the all-time high it reached last autumn.

It is currently rising by inmates a week. Just 1, prisoners below its maximum capacity, the Prison Service is close to breaking point. Its staff and managers are well aware of the consequences: By the end of March, the doors will open on three new prefabricated wings at existing jails, providing room for another 1, inmates.

Shortly afterwards, two new prisons, with room for 1, more, will open at Ashford, Kent, and Heathrow. Few doubt the extra spaces will soon be filled. Sincewhen it hit a low of 42, the prison population's rise has been relentless. Unlike any other public institution, the Prison Service appears to be an open-ended resource.

The paradox is that, throughout this era of rampant jail expansion, crime rates have fallen steadily: The numbers of people convicted have also fallen, from 1.

Drugs aren't the only reason why sentences have got longer and the prison population soared. The legal 'tariffs' for some crimes, such as rape and mobile phone street robbery, are longer. As Tim Dees mentioned, you won’t find one answer that explains every situation.. But, today we have answers that tell us the root cause of at least 50% and probably closer to 80 - 90% of crimes. The headwaters of a river are where the river begins. Before the headwaters are formed, the water comes from somewhere. Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds And also, when you look at particular crimes in society, such as violence against women, then arguably the prison doesn't necessarily incapacitate all of the dangerous people, all of the time. So therefore you come back to the question of, well, what is the prison for?

At the simplest level, the explanation for the prison population explosion is that there are more prisoners because magistrates and judges have got much tougher. Although the total remanded in custody has increased sincefrom 10, to around 13, the number of convicted prisoners serving a sentence has soared from 31, to 58, of whom about 4, are women.

The myth of protection

Contrary to popular belief, women are somewhat less likely to go to prison, and on average receive shorter sentences. Only 6 per cent convicted by magistrates went to prison inbut 15 per cent in Average Crown court sentence lengths have also risen dramatically.

The average burglar jailed in could expect to go away for 11 months; his counterpart in for Similar increases apply to other crimes. Some argue that crimes are getting worse.

These days there's a sense of relief if they've merely put the boot in. There's so much anger: And people seem much more ready to use weapons. Tougher sentences, it said, 'do not appear to reflect a more serious mix of offenders passing through the courts Yet, although the last Tory Home Secretary, Michael Howard, famously proclaimed that 'prison works', Labour Ministers have often urged the judiciary to use imprisonment sparingly.

Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, has also warned repeatedly of the negative effects of prison overcrowding. Yet the judges aren't following their leader. Is this simply a matter of media, mood and public perception? Or are there deeper, more intractable forces at work? The place to begin to look for answers is the nature of the prison population itself.

Some penal reformers have argued that the main problem is the increase in people serving short sentences, 12 months or less, and that the jails are bursting mainly because of people whose offences are so trivial - TV licence fee evasion, for example - that they shouldn't be there at all.

On closer inspection, however, this argument looks problematic. On the one hand, it is true that a high proportion of short-sentence inmates probably wouldn't have been imprisoned 10 years ago.

For example, 15 per cent of burglary convicts got a community sentence inbut just 5 per cent in A higher proportion go straight to probation-supervised community sentences, and a much higher proportion to prison. Last month Woolf was attacked by the right-wing press when he issued new sentence guidelines suggesting that burglars without previous convictions should not normally be jailed.

Missing from the furore was the actual number of first-time burglars now serving sentences of fewer than four years.In more complex criminal cases, such as those involving serious felonies, the sentencing judge usually receives input from the prosecutor, the defense, and the probation department (which prepares recommendations in a "pre-sentence report").

As Tim Dees mentioned, you won’t find one answer that explains every situation.. But, today we have answers that tell us the root cause of at least 50% and probably closer to 80 - 90% of crimes.

The headwaters of a river are where the river begins. Before the headwaters are formed, the water comes from somewhere. There is no satisfactory answer to why people become criminals. Theft crimes, for example, rise and fall with unemployment, but that's only one of many factors.

Trouble sometimes begins with birth into environments of physical, sexual, or substance abuse, criminal .

A look at why and whether prison works as an answer to all serious crimes

Here is an answer from a person who has been in prison. This is a complex question. People who have committed atrocities and serious crimes are mentally ill.

Our jails are full to bursting - and it's almost all down to drugs | Politics | The Guardian

They belong in asylums where they are separated from regular people and can get therapy. But that does not account for most of the prison population or even 80% of them. The main reason why serious offenders should be kept in the prison rather than petty criminal is rooted in the prison’s approaches.

One approach aims to protect the public against criminals. We should notice that some crimes are not as much dangerous as serious crimes. Crimes and misdemeanors are both crimes, but they are generally categorized differently in penal codes.

Felonies are serious crimes generally meaning an offense for which one could be sentenced to more than one year in prison.

PEOPLE INCARCERATED FOR NON-VIOLENT CRIMES