Here we go again, the old and familiar Tory cry of ‘lock them up.’ This time it’s David Cameron saying that anyone over the age of 16 caught carrying a knife should be given a prison sentence. Under ‘New’ Labour too the prison population has steadily increased, so no new thinking anywhere.
We already imprison a higher percentage of our population than any other country apart from the USA. It’s about time someone in power thought to themselves this isn’t working. It’s no good the political parties vying with each other over how many people they can lock up and say that while they are inside they can’t commit a crime. It is indeed true of course but eventually they are released and emerge back into society having had an intensive course in criminality from experts.
We don’t need more prisons, we need to get out of prison those have mental health problems and those who are in there for generally pathetic cases such as non payment of fines out of disgustingly low incomes. There must be greatly increased resources in the prisons to educate and reform the inmates before release. Huge numbers of prisoners are there for usually multiple but petty offences related to drug addiction and imprisonment will not make any difference to the vast majority. I shall write more on this subject another time.
The media also has a part to play and resist going along with a public perception, fuelled by politicians that more and more of our citizens should be ‘locked up.’ Imprisonment is not a deterrent and the punishment part of a sentence is actually the first three months, after which inmates merely become used to the routine and institutionalised. Unless the remaining time includes education, training and rehabilitation it is a complete waste of the money spent on incarceration.