Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Imprisonment and Gender

Short sentences wreck lives, a few weeks inside can mean a woman loses her children, her home, and her job. Many women are trapped in an endless cycle within the Criminal Justice System – 45% are reconvicted within a year of release.
Julian’s Musings 30 March 2015 : Julian Ware-Lane supports Women in Prison’s campaign and calls for a new approach to criminal justice for women

I don’t doubt the above, but, if we read:

a few weeks inside can mean losing your children, your home, and your job. Many are trapped in an endless cycle within the Criminal Justice System – 45% are reconvicted within a year of release.
ibid

Is that still true?

Is the issue that we have not got our minds around the whole offender management system? As a result we have something that is inefficient ineffective and expensive – and inhumane.

Most people inside for short sentences are not a danger to society – a nuisance at worst. Society has to be protected from those who are a danger to society (usually violent offenders – physically or mentally – but sometimes others like confidence tricksters – financial and other?) – and locking them up is probably the easiest way to do this.

If people are no more than a nuisance imprisoning them has to be justified on grounds of retribution (a nasty motivation), deterrence, and hopefully rehabilitation. I wonder whether locking up anyone for a short sentence is actually cost-effective? The cost is that of locking them up and the cost of dealing with the consequences of locking them up. The latter may initially be met by the offender, but usually social problems (homelessness, job loss, and family breakdown) end up costing society.

Are men and women so very different that “deterrence” means locking up men but giving women “alternatives to custodial sentencing”?

Can we only enforce male rehabilitation by imprisonment, whilst female rehabilitation can be done by “alternatives to custodial sentencing”?

Sentencing should be tailored to the offender – and I am not sure that defining the offender principally in terms of their gender is appropriate. Easy, yes; appropriate, not sure.

Julian said: “Whilst the public must be protected and crimes punished, it should never be about revenge. We must have a system that properly rehabilitates, a system that sees re-offending as low as we can get it. For rehabilitation to really work we cannot see lives wrecked.”
ibid

Surely that applies to all; men as much as women?

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