Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It's Like Going Back Twenty Years

There's a news article in the London Times that states (factually) that overcrowding in Scottish prisons is quite high (although it does not state capacity). What is eye opening is that the article then goes on to make the point that to reduce over crowding in the aforementioned Scottish prisons, the Government will have to start releasing prisoners early, imprisoning miscreants less and limit judicial sentencing discretion.

The authorities traveled to Finland and Ireland to study alternatives to prison. They also say they went to New York to study what the Yanks have been up to. They apparently did not pay attention to what the NY Correctional people told them.

Here's a tip. It's free, but true nonetheless. If you increase prison capacity and then incarcerate miscreants for the term of their sentences, and start imposing recidivism penalties as well, crime drops dramatically. Whatever the cost of imprisonment, having criminals loose in society committing crimes costs a great deal more.

The frugal thing to do is to build more prisons. That is the only way you have a chance of protecting your citizenry from theft and violence.

6 comments:

The Underground Pewster said...

If they build more prisons, and incarcerate more criminals, then the country's incarceration rate might increase. The U.S. has received a lot of bad press because of this report.
A theory...more lawmakers, more laws=more crimes and more criminals=more convictions (in theory)=more convicts=higher incarceration rate (if you have a place to put them).
"If you build it they will come."

The Underground Pewster said...

Oops wrong link

the report as pdf.

The Underground Pewster said...

Drats! here it is in long hand,

http://www.sentencingproject.org/Admin/Documents/publications/inc_comparative_intl.pdf

The Underground Pewster said...

I give up!

http://www.sentencingproject.org
/Admin/Documents/publications
/inc_comparative_intl.pdf

Matthew said...

I've seen it and read it. What tends to get ignored is that while prison populations remained flat for a twenty year period, the US had explosive population growth during the same period, which was followed (with some lag) by a dramatic rise in crime.

Once we started incarcerating the criminals again, crime dropped dramatically. It's as though there were a correlation between the numbers of criminals loose in the general population and the rate of crimes committed /sarcasm.

I will predict that if we hold firm to our present hard line stance, prison populations will start to decline as the inmates themselves age.

As far as there being more crimes, we do have too many. Legislators feel the need to do something when a problem occurs. Unfortunately their tools are limited to creating a bureaucracy to handle the problem, making the problem illegal or assigning liability for the problem. So over time, new crimes get created.

Andrew said...

One of the problems is that prison is used as a solution for ALL crime. The fact is that it is expensive to keep people in prison. It SHOULD be used for people we do not want to have running free; ie murderers, robbers, muggers, and other violent people. We do NOT need to use it for 'white-collar' criminals, drug users, and simple theft.