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Monday 1 May 2006 9.35am
Jan's island (aka Botany Bay) is not a bad idea, and I agree, locking people up who dont behave is better than giving them parole too early and letting them go off and rape and murder some more. It's a knotty one this. The chain gangs at least got the railways built..perhaps this is not such a bad idea. The trouble is that prison is sometimes too cushy by half, and it seems to be a hotbed of inside crime, drugs, and all kinds of nasties. And we dont have anywhere else to colonise. I just dont know what drives people to kill and maim or assault knowing that there IS the chance, quite a good one, of doing a stretch in the slammer. (see my new thread about the firebomber in Kennington). And as our lovely Home Sec. has revealed this week, keeping tabs on offenders after they leave the prison gates is not easy!
Tuesday 2 May 2006 12.12pm
"If they are going to do further harm if released then the answer is simple. Do not release them. "

Whilst this may seem a very simple solution for the highly emotive and truly dreadful crimes such as rape or child abuse, there are so many shades of grey as to make your solution totally unreasonable.

Do you take the view that ALL prisoners should never be released? regardless of their crime?

If a prisoner has NO HOPE of ever being released, what is to stop them from becoming even more lawless whilst in prison?

If you take as the starting point in any argument about penal reform the plain fact that MOST prisoners will one day be released back into society, what is your solution to reducing the reoffending rate of those released prisoners? If you can solve that conundrum, you're a better person than the best brains that have looked at this problem for the last 100 years.
Wednesday 3 May 2006 6.38am
In the fifties Martin what percentage of the population offended? I bet it was fewer than it is now because of the threat of prison! I really think anyone who premeditates a violent crime against an innocent human being deserves to be locked up with others of their kind, then they can fight it out between themselves....
Wednesday 3 May 2006 6.47am
Yup! I tell you, Botany Bay or whateveritwascalled that Island where the frenchman managed to escape....oh dear, senior moment.......P....something.
Wednesday 3 May 2006 6.57am
papillion? me an all jackie...devils island?
Wednesday 3 May 2006 8.57am
"In the fifties Martin what percentage of the population offended? I bet it was fewer than it is now because of the threat of prison! "

I'm sorry, but that really is way too simplistic. Crime's general increase over the decades has been attributed to several factors:
* The loss of automatic deference to certain types of people
* The loss of religion as a glue that binds society
* The rise of consumerism, which feeds a desire to have what others have
* The increased alienation of sections of society
* The mobility of people, that has resulted in whole towns and villages full of people who don't know each other, and are less inclined to look after each other

There are many countries that have much harsher prison regimes than ours, yet their crime rate is far higher (Thailand is a good example). How come the "threat" of prison doesn't reduce their crime rate?

There is an interesting paradox to the debate about prisons: the RE-offending rates of ex-prisoners that have been released from institutions with harsher treatment of their prisoners are far higher than those that instigate "modern, liberal, cushy" policies. How do we, as a society, square that circle?
Wednesday 3 May 2006 9.25am
I am has so many corners now days..I can't comment about the re-offending rates in general of criminals, but the few i have met remember the time they spent inside as one they do not want to repeat whether it was Ford open or any of the harsher prisons.....they missed their families...or wait for it Martin....'you had to mix with such nutters and excreta and you could not get away from them!' was how i was told by one ex-offender!
Wednesday 3 May 2006 9.52am
I have never met an ex-prisoner face to face, though I have read several books and articles about prison life and have met a prison officer some time ago, and a forensic psychologist whose job it is to establish whether their crimes are caused by mental illness (shades of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, perhaps).

Most prisoners do not want to go back to prison; most regard their prison experience as something they would not wish to go through again. However, it appears that it is the life back on the outside that somehow derails them and sends them back into a life of crime. It is interesting to note that when the prisoner (or rather, EX-prisoner, who has served his sentence) is viewed as much of a victim as the victim of the crime he committed, that prisoner is less likely to re-offend. Now, I would personally prefer a society where re-offending rates are reduced, even if it means swallowing the bitter pill of reconciliation with those that perpetrate crimes and have completed their sentences.

There's an interesting scene in the recent film about Albert Pierrepoint (the last Chief Executioner), who, after having "done the deed" of hanging the condemmed, treated the dead body with utmost respect, for (in his words) "they've done their sentence".
Wednesday 3 May 2006 10.07am
Living around here Martin you probably have met several already! but some crooks are quite nice! and you would not know they are ex-prisoners..:-)
Wednesday 3 May 2006 10.47am
True, I suppose we no longer brand ex-cons in the manner described in Les Miserables. Come to think of it, I have (knowingly) met an ex-prisoner... I once had the displeasure of bumping into Jeffrey Archer.... now, maybe we should lock 'em up and throw away the key....
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