Arfon Liberal Democrats welcome Deputy Prime Ministers’ announcement yesterday that our prison system is set to be reformed.
By reforming our prison system and the way in which we view prisoners who serve minor sentences, we can begin to change their lives and also change the nature of reoffending. We agree that we need to move these individuals away from crime and onto the right path, a process which begins in prison.
Short term prison sentences are expensive and ineffective. 71% of 18-21 year-olds (2004) re-offend when they are released, it’s clear that the system needs to be hinged upon rehabilitation.
The plans set out by the Deputy Prime Minister would see more robust community sentences and restorative justice. For those who only serve short term sentences we should be enabling them to change their lives by focusing on individual skills.
In 2003 95% of prisoners needed help with basic literacy, and half of prisoners are at, or below, the level expected of an eleven year old in reading, 66% in numeracy, and 80% in writing – skills which are required in 96% of jobs. Over the last year the Coalition Government have, under Liberal Democrat impetus, increased the hours that prisoners work by 800,000.
The plans also cover support for those who offend because of illness and addiction by diverting mentally ill offenders away from the criminal justice system and towards treatment; and introducing drug recovery wings within prisons for those caught up in re-offending because of drug abuse.
In addition, Liberal Democrats have also pushed for fairness within the justice system by remembering the victims of crime, for example by giving them and their communities more of a say about punishment – things like community resolution panels.
Liberal Democrats are making a real difference, in government, to all of those whose lives are affected by crime.