An important aspect in the reduction of reoffending is to ensure we create fewer victims, or if cold hard cash is your thing and from a fresh perspective, reducing reoffending will also keep insurance premiums to a minimum. Less crime, fewer insurance payouts, minimal premiums. And if it is cold hard cash where your thoughts sit, then there is also the £18.1 billion reoffending costs to consider. Two points that not only highlight the importance of reducing reoffending but also highlight some benefits to be gained from the reduction of reoffending.
Using an educational guess, I’d say that between 55,000 – 60,000 people on average are released from our prisons each year. However, I wonder how many times in a year some prisoners are released. I would think it plausible to be twice, thrice, or possibly four or five. Potentially causing the same amount of victims, if not more. Any crime has the potential for the creation of a victim or victims, especially if you pay tax or purchase insurance.
When he was the prisons and probation minister, Rory Stewart said, that short-term sentences are “long enough to damage but not long enough to heal”, and as I always say “if nothing changes, nothing changes”. Short-term prison sentences are of no benefit to anyone, not the individual, definitely not the already overcrowded and understaffed prison system, and most definitely not society. A futile process which compounds rather than helps.
Society has a right to be protected, but is a six-month sentence protecting the public, or does it just provide a temporary respite from an individual? Can someone please explain to me the point and purpose of a 28-day sentence other than it being done for the sake of it? Criminal justice? Maybe. Social justice? Not a chance.
A plausible case study could be my mate ‘Fictitious Vic’, a 45-year-old prolific shoplifter. Prolific but not very good as Vic is now on his 32nd prison sentence. This time for 21 days for nicking a £20 jumper out of Primark. Vic’s longest sentence out of his previous 31 was six-months, he was reckless when tackled by a security guard after he half-inched a joint of beef out of his local Morrison’s and copped an assault charge on top.
I’m not sure how much my mate Vic has cost you, the taxpayer, but I can guarantee you it is a hell of a lot more than it would’ve cost to have diverted Vic away from this way of life after he was excluded from school at 14. It wasn’t Vic’s fault his mum grew ill and being a single mum Vic was her primary carer. Unfortunately, Vic’s mum lost her battle against her illness and died when Vic was 15. That was when he started stealing, he was being bullied at the care home they placed him into after his mum died. It began as a cry for help, but no one asked. 31 years after being excluded from school, still no one has asked.
If nothing changes, nothing changes.
Early intervention is just, for criminal justice and for social justice. Look for the signs, and don’t label them as ‘challenging and disruptive’. “What is happening to you?” provides more opportunity than “What is wrong with you?”.