Alternative Methods to Prison Sentencing in Britain Essay

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More and more people in Britain are being sentenced to jail time: this is a fact. In 2004, there are currently over eighty thousand inmates.[1] (Peter Reydt, 2004 / Scottish Executive, 2003) Crime is on the increase but our prisons are already overcrowded. Consequently, new prisons will be required to accommodate prisoners. Where will the money come from to pay for the construction of new prisons? Will they have a sufficient rehabilitation programs in place? The prison system is obviously failing because it is not acting as a deterrent. Clearly we should now be examining why the system is failing and possible alternatives to prison. What should these alternatives be? Would they work and would they …show more content…
Consequently, all this 'toughening up' on crime just seemed to be adding more and more numbers to the prison population. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary of the time, wanted to increase the use of electronic tagging to try and help ease the numbers entering prison but, on the other hand, he wanted to toughen up sentencing for offenders he described as "the worst anti-social crimes such as burglary"[5](Cascianni, 2002). This appears that Jack Straw was trying to decrease the prison population but at the same time increase it - a rather contradictory message. Since David Blunkett's hard line speeches in 2002, the Howard League for Penal Reform who have been monitoring the prison numbers since 2001, noticed that the actual number of people being sent to prison had been constant until he started making tough speeches about crime and punishment. Since then, up to 500 more people per week have been sentenced to prison - a huge number and a huge burden on the prison service.

Because of these increases being placed on the prison population, there is now more of a financial burden on the taxpayer. To keep an offender in prison for just one year, it will cost in excess of thirty seven thousand pounds whereas it would only cost around two thousand pounds to place an offender on a community punishment order (Peter