Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Building Bigger Prisons - is it the answer?

When the prison population grows - how should we respond?

By looking again at our penal policy?
By asking ourselves why so many people are committing offences for which they risk imprisonment? By looking at alternatives to prison?
By considering whether there are more effective ways to dissuade people from committing crimes?
By building more, and bigger prisons?

Sometimes a serious consideration of the objectives of criminal law and of punishment are forgotten whilst a knee jerk reaction sets in. I'd urge all citizens - and our politicians to think about what objectives we as a society should have.

There are some excellent books about the subject. I remember at University studying Ted Honderich's thought provoking book on punishment.

The House of Commons Library has published a standard note - "Building prisons: the bigger, the better?"  It considers the advantages and disadvantages of new, bigger prisons and is available here.