Make Justice Work’s submission to the Leveson Inquiry

Make Justice Work’s submission to the Leveson Inquiry

Make Justice Work urges the Leveson Inquiry to be bold and seize the opportunity to affect a sea change in the culture and ethics of the British media and bring back an ethos of responsibility, and to lessen the influence that the press has upon politicians and policy making.

Read Make Justice Work’s full submission to the Leveson Inquiry

Women succeed on community sentences – Joy Doal ambassador for Make Justice Work.

Women succeed on community sentences – Joy Doal ambassador for Make Justice Work.

Joy Doal is the project manager of the Anawim Project, a women’s centre in Birmingham that helps women in prostitution, victims of domestic violence and women who are in and out of prison. She is also an ambassador for Make Justice Work.
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The Howard League’s submission to the Leveson Enquiry

Make Justice Work: Criminal Justice - News . Opinion . Research

The Howard League for Penal Reform have sent a really interesting submission to the Leveson Enquiry addressing the mainstream media’s coverage of crime ‘Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press’.
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We need to ensure that we tackle the current problems within our society head on.

We need to ensure that we tackle the current problems within our society head on.

Baroness Stedman Scott (Debbie Scott) is the CEO Tomorrow’s People Trust and an ambassador for Make Justice Work.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to warn that the riots could return

The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to warn that the riots could return

The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to warn that the riots could return (The Guardian, Investigating England’s Summer of Disorder, 5th December 2011). As a result of the violence in August we saw a surge in the number of offenders given short prison sentences. This is a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. Short prison sentences are ineffective when it comes to tackling re-offending and making offenders face-up to what they have done. Intensive alternatives to custody are tough and are also more successful when it comes to ensuring the same crimes aren’t repeated. If we really want to cut crime, we need to stop making the same mistakes.

Overcrowded prisons are a national disgrace

Overcrowded prisons are a national disgrace

The Independent’s leader (Overcrowded prisons are a national disgrace, 24 Nov) is right to call short prison sentences the most obviously dysfunctional part of what Ken Clarke called our “broken penal system”, and his proposed reforms should appeal to those who care about efficient use of public money. After all, the evidence is that intensive community sentences reduce reoffending more than short sentences.
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Authentic Face of Crime?

Authentic Face of Crime?

The argument that prison is the answer to tackling re-offending is flawed (Daily Express, Opinion, 24 November).  Most offenders who serve short prison sentences re-offend once they are released.  This revolving door between prison and the community is a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money.  Intensive alternatives to custody are not only tough, but they are also far more effective when it comes to cutting re-offending.  If we really want to cut crime, we need to accept that locking people behind bars for a few months, simply doesn’t work.

Right on Crime

Right on Crime

While the right in Texas have started to look at more effective ways of punishing and rehabilitating offenders, Britain’s prison population is now at a record high (Ian Birrell, 21 November).  This comes at huge cost to the tax-payer and should make today’s deficit hawks sit up and take note. Our Community or Custody National Enquiry, chaired by conservative commentator Peter Oborne, found that intensive alternatives to custody are no soft touch and are more effective than short prison sentences at cutting re-offending.  Ian Birrell is right to hope for an outbreak of common sense. Like Texas, Britain too can cut crime, costs and our spiralling prison population.

We need to get sentencing right

Fay Selvan is CEO of The Big Life group of social businesses and charities which works across the north of England.  The group deliver a range of services and opportunities to the most excluded people, including The Big Issue in the North, primary care and mental health services, family intervention, employment and supported housing.
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Staggering re-offending statistics

Staggering re-offending statistics

The government should take note when Mothers Against Murder and Aggression rightly say “there is no point in someone being locked up for six weeks and then released with the same issues and lifestyle because they just reoffend” (‘Repeat offenders who won’t reform commit half a million crimes’ Oct 27).
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Community Sentences have a better track record in reducing reoffending

Community Sentences have a better track record in reducing reoffending

When someone offends the penalty should be proportionate the public should be protected and  the offender should offer restitution. It is in society’s own interest that the offender should not offend again. It is also in the interests of the offender.
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Education and Community Sentences

Education and Community Sentences

Make Justice Work’ is arguing for greater use of community sentences as a better alternative than short prison sentences. I agree – which is why I’m an ambassador for the campaign, along with many others. But my focus is primarily on custody, because the charity of which I’m director largely works inside prison, so my reason for agreeing is slightly different.
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Rioting in Britain – A Criminal Justice System Out of Control?

Rioting in Britain – A Criminal Justice System Out of Control?

The below are the authors’ personal views and not necessarily representative of Birmingham University or of the London Probation Trust.

The recent disturbances across many key cities of Britain have led media commentators, politicians, senior police officers and others to consider the causes of the surprising, and even, shocking series of events that took place.  Whilst some of these incidents involved extreme forms of violence in the form of murder, physical assault, arson, gang-related violence, other incidents are not so easily classified – looting, handling stolen goods, accepting items that had been looted by others.  These sets of behaviours have been presented in media accounts as amoral, as people getting kicks out of lawless behaviour, as a symptom of a society whereby parents have lost control of their children.
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Why short term prison sentences are not working

Why short term prison sentences are not working

In this, the third of our guest bloggers, we hear from Paul Cowley. Paul is an Ambassador for Make Justice Work and is also Executive Director of Caring for Ex-Offenders and The William Wilberforce Trust.

I’ve heard it proposed that the purpose of prison is fourfold:

  1. Punish the offender for the crime committed
  2. Protect the public
  3. Rehabilitate the offender
  4. Deter people from committing more crime

So the question is do short sentences achieve these aims?
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The National Enquiry – Launch of the Final Report

I am delighted to announce the publication of the National Enquiry – Final Report
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The role of the probation service

The Justice Select Committee have just published their report into the Role of the Probation Service (July, 2011).  I thought the following quotation was particularly appropriate:
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Justice Committee are right to demand leadership from the Government

Make Justice Work: Criminal Justice - News . Opinion . Research

The Justice Committee is absolutely right to demand leadership from the government in building public confidence in community sentences.  Ministers know full well that short spells in prison don’t work for low-level offenders.  Robust and effective community sentences must be much more widely used, if our broken criminal justice system is to be put right.

Bromley Briefing Prison Factfile

Bromley Briefing Prison Factfile

I just wanted to draw your attention to the latest publication of the Prison Reform Trust’s Bromley Briefing Factfile.  One of the findings shows that:
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Make Justice Work is putting out a call to action

Make Justice Work: Criminal Justice - News . Opinion . Research

The government’s Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is having its Second Reading in the House of Commons today and Make Justice Work is putting out a call to action to spur the government to commit to reducing the use of short term prison sentences:
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David Cameron speaks out about Community Sentences

David Cameron speaks out about Community Sentences

In the press conference, after his statement on Criminal Justice (21st June 2011), this is what David Cameron had to say about community sentences:
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Drug addiciton and lower-level offending

Make Justice Work: Criminal Justice - News . Opinion . Research

Drug abuse is one of the biggest causes of low-level offending. If we stop locking these people up at great expense and begin properly addressing their drug taking, we will see crime rates and the cost to society fall. Our research found that up to £1billion could be saved if all the low-level drug-using offenders given short sentences in 2007 were put into intensive rehab instead. Short prison sentences must be replaced with sensible, cost effective alternatives. We hope this government will have the bottle to finally drive through these much needed reforms.

The real problem in prisons is the ‘revolving door’

Make Justice Work: Criminal Justice - News . Opinion . Research

Ministers under pressure on sentencing reforms must keep their eyes on the prize: the real problem in prisons is the ‘revolving door’ of offenders going in, out, and in again for short sentences of under a year. Parking someone in prison for a few weeks is phenomenally expensive and criminally ineffective. Ken Clarke said last month it was a ‘national scandal’ that half of all prisoners on these short sentences re-offend within a year. He was right then and it is right now that he should do something about it.
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The increasing incarceration of women is a disgraceful situation which must be challenged

Make Justice Work: Criminal Justice - News . Opinion . Research

Few sensible politicians would support locking up the thousands of women who receive the shortest sentences, at the highest cost to the state and to their families, and make up a tiny proportion of overall crime in this country. It would defy all logic for the Government to shrink from changing this system – they should instead focus on supporting the pioneering projects that deal with women in their community. Alternatives to custody have much better success rates than simply giving women – and often their children – a ‘short, sharp, shock’.

We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the last decade

Make Justice Work: Criminal Justice - News . Opinion . Research

The statistics on crimes committed by repeat offenders should be a wakeup call (Daily Mail, ‘Dodging Justice’, 30 May) Ken Clarke is right to call it a ‘national scandal’. Intensive community sentences are more effective than sending these people to a few weeks in jail so surely it is right for us try another approach that actually cuts crime rather than fills prisons. The state of our prisons, finances, and our streets mean we can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the last decade.

Green Paper Response – 24th May

Make Justice Work: Criminal Justice - News . Opinion . Research

With all the focus on AV and Osama Bin Laden this week, criminal justice has been slightly quieter in the media.  However,the response to the Green Paper submissions will be on 24th May I am told so no doubt things will hotten up again after that.

At a lunch with Rob Owen this week at Reform, he reminded us of the new criminal justice landscape we are moving into, with a particular focus on Payment by Results and and aptly quoted Charles Darwin:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

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