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Short Prison Sentences

Comment 14th July 2010

There has been increasing support for the proposal to stop all Prison Sentences of less than 12 months, because they are suggested to be unnecessary and ineffective. Additionally they involve release back to the Community without support or Licence.

My proposal is NOT to withdraw under 12 months sentences, but to remove them from the Magistrates' Court, and restrict shorter sentences to the Crown Court in exceptional circumstances.

As a Prison Governor, I am fully aware that short sentences can occasionally be effective in cases of acquisitive crime to fund Class A drugs habits…where the offender is taken off the streets for perhaps 3 to 6 months, 'cleaned up', attends drug treatment, gets registered with DIP and prescribing services etc…, but I would suggest this should be a sentencing option restricted to the Crown Court.

Why does this matter?

Could create huge financial/efficiency savings, and appropriately target short-term prison places. Could mean we cease the prisons expansion programme, and divert some of those funds into Probation-managed provision in the Community.

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