Ministers consider ending jail terms of six months or less

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Inside a prison

The Ministry of Justice is contemplating banning jail sentences of lower than six months in England and Wales.

Ministers argue that brief jail phrases are much less efficient at slicing reoffending than group penalties.

Prisons minister Rory Stewart informed the Every day Telegraph that such sentences have been “lengthy sufficient to wreck you and never lengthy sufficient to heal you”.

If such jail sentences have been to be scrapped it’s thought it may unlock hundreds of jail locations.

Some burglars and most shoplifters are amongst those that could possibly be spared jail phrases beneath the proposals.

‘They lose their fame’

The Ministry of Justice is contemplating stopping courts from imposing jail phrases of lower than six months until the sentence is for a violent crime or a sexual offence.

The measure may scale back the jail inhabitants by round three,500, though it will require laws.

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In Scotland, a presumption in opposition to jail sentences of lower than three months is already in place and is because of be prolonged to 12 months.

Arguing for the necessity for reform, Mr Stewart informed the Every day Telegraph Journal: “You deliver any individual in for 3 or 4 weeks, they lose their home, their job, their household, their fame.

“They arrive (into jail), they meet numerous fascinating characters (to place it politely) and then you definately whap them on to the streets once more.

“The general public are safer if we’ve group sentence… and it’ll relieve numerous strain on prisons.”

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Reuters

Picture caption

Mr Stewart has beforehand spoken of his ambition to cut back brief jail phrases

Since they took up their posts final yr, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Mr Stewart have each made it clear they need to scale back using brief jail sentences.

The jail inhabitants has doubled in England and Wales for the reason that early 1990s, rising from round 40,000 to greater than 80,000 in 2019, official figures present.

Nearly two-thirds of prisoners launched after sentences of lower than 12 months reoffend inside a yr.

Greater than half of the 86,275 offenders sentenced to fast custody in England and Wales in 2017 have been handed sentences of six months or much less, based on a Parliamentary response from Mr Stewart to shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon final month.

Mr Stewart mentioned he realised that the proposals may provoke a backlash in opposition to “comfortable justice” by individuals in his personal occasion and the general public, however mentioned it was “a debate I’ve to win”.

In August final yr he vowed to resign in a yr if he was unable to cut back drug use and violence in 10 goal jails in England.

The Jail Reform Belief, which has beforehand referred to as for a presumption in opposition to brief jail sentences, welcomed the brand new proposals.

Peter Dawson, the charity’s director, informed the Telegraph: “Ministers ought to be congratulated for having the political braveness to begin the controversy.”

An MoJ spokesperson mentioned: “As we’ve mentioned beforehand, brief sentences are too usually ineffective, present little alternative to rehabilitate offenders and result in unacceptably excessive charges of reoffending.

“That is why we’re exploring potential alternate options, however this work is ongoing and we’ve reached no conclusions at the moment.”

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