But the system — beset with the chronic under-staffing of prison officers, spiralling violence, drug abuse, over-crowding, self-harming, suicides and high-profile prisoner escapes, amongst a host of problems — is facing what could be termed an existential crisis. Assaults on prison staff are now averaging 16 a day, a 38 per cent increase on last year. Prisoner-on-prisoner violence has increased, the number of prisoners committing suicide has increased.
England and Wales have the highest number of people in prison within Western Europe, with perof the population being imprisoned in Walmsley The fact that prisons are heavily overcrowded has meant that several debilitating factors have occurred, such as two people being held in a cell which is designed for one, leading to them having to use unscreened toilets, which in turn means that they lose even the most basic of human dignity.
Community punishments can take on many forms, and the general principles applying to all community penalties are found in Section 5 of the Criminal Justice Act Focusing on these forms of punishment could help keep the prison population at a minimum.
Prisons should always be used within our society for the most serious offenders such as murderers and rapists, so as to keep them incarcerated and away from harming society again. However, community sentences are a cheaper and more effective way to punish offenders.
Replacing 20, prison places with alternative sentences would save the taxpayer? Research has also shown that the public do not necessarily call for offenders to be sent to prison.
For example, an ICM survey for the Ministry of Justice of 1, victims of non-violent crime in the UK found that 81 percent of victims would prefer an offender to receive an effective sentence rather than a harsh one with nearly two thirds 63 percent disagreeing that prison is always the best way to punish someone.
Home Office research suggests that 10 per cent of offenders are committing half of all crimes in England and Wales at any point in time Hone Office There are several examples of programmes which have been carried out on prolific and persistent offenders, for example, the Stoke-on-Trent Prolific Offender Project by a research team at Keel University Worrall et al However there was no significant difference in the average number of convictions between the groups after the participants left the project.
This therefore indicates that more follow up and support may be needed after completion of projects such as this.
If this happened, then less people would be inclined to reoffend, which may therefore lead to a reduction in the prison population, it was also found that the programme had other benefits, such as it keeping them occupied, and built up their confidence in doing everyday things such as finding accommodation, social interaction and paying bills.
Vass states that punishment in the community is seen as a means of keeping prison places available for more serious crimes and alleviating overcrowding. Through their supervised activities, offenders can contribute to their own well being as well as that of the community.
Tonry states that if a there was a greater use of community punishments, and the prison population was reduced by a third, then the level of crime should actually come down. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, recidivism studies comparing re-offending by people released from prisons or community penalties generally conclude that ex-prisoners do worse and have higher re-offending rates.
This is why several countries, including Germany have nearly eliminated the use if prison if the sentence is under six months. Therefore, if the prison population was reduced, and replaced by punishment in the community, the funds saved by cutting prison numbers could be utilised to help fund more effective programmes within the community.
Therefore it can be seen that the sentencing framework proposed by Halliday in presents the argument that a single community punishment could help reduce reoffending, in turn cutting the prison population.
Several studies have supported the fact that community punishment can have positive effects upon offenders. For example, Rex carried out 65 in depth interviews with victims, offenders, magistrates and probation practitioners in which they discussed things such as their understanding of punishment and how community sentences contribute to penal aims.
Therefore, it can be seen that offenders on community punishment schemes can find them rewarding. If this means that they will be less inclined to reoffend then this will mean that community punishments will have made some progress in reducing the prison population within England and Wales.
Since the Criminal Justice Actthere have been several alternative types of residential and non-residential treatment requirement available. The government introduced a specific community penalty entitled the Drug Treatment and Testing Order in the Crime and Disorder Actwhich was rolled out nationally in This order contains a mandate for compulsory drug testing, and direct court oversight of the management of orders and progress of individuals.
One of the most thorough evaluations of the effectiveness of drug treatment undertaken has been the UK National Treatment Outcome Research Study, which followed users for four to five years after their intake into residential and outpatient methadone programmes.
The programme found significant reductions in drug use, the high-risk drug behaviours of injecting and equipment sharing, symptoms of psychological distress and criminal activity one year after intake into treatment.
Rumgay suggests several crucial issues that need to be considered when developing treatment provision for substance misusing offenders.
She also argues that diverse treatment opportunities are required which include both voluntary and compulsory pathways, rather than being constrained within a limited range of specifically accredited programmes.
It can also be argued that community punishments could be used in place of short prison sentences. The government accepted the arguments as to the ineffectiveness of short custodial sentences which were presented to them in in the Halliday Report.Prison overcrowding is one of the key contributing factors to poor prison conditions around the world.
It is also arguably the biggest single problem facing prison systems and its consequences can at worst be life-threatening at best prevent prisons from fulfilling their proper function. Prisoners with serious mental health problems face urgent treatment delays Almost three-quarters of prisoners in England faced delays being transferred to a mental health unit, according to.
Loss of senior managers led to UK’s prison crisis. Published: The Guardian view on Birmingham prison: the root problem is austerity.
About 7, results for Prisons . Problems facing Prisons in England and Wales Figures from the Howard League for Penal Reform state that there are currently over 80, people in prison in England and Wales today. The prison population has been rising steadily since , increasing from 42, to today's unprecedented levels.
Problems Facing Prisons in England and Wales Problems facing Prisons in England and Wales Figures from the Howard League for Penal Reform state that there are currently over 80, people in prison in England and Wales today.
Prisons face other problems as well. A lack of adequate funding had made improvements difficult. In addition, tensions among prisoners and between prisoners and the .