Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jun 2016
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Mick Humphreys


Prison should not be regarded as a punishment (Letters, 2 June). It 
is place of restraint where those who are incorrigibly violent - such 
as terrorists and incurable psychopaths - must be kept.

Punishment is a consequence of this restraint, but it should not be 
its aim. Punishment can be achieved by much more effective means, eg 
ill-gotten gains can be sequestered and subsequent earnings mulcted. 
The aim must be restitution, reform and rehabilitation, not 
one-size-fits-all punishment.

Magistrates, who can only award useless short sentences, should have 
this power removed completely. Crown court judges should have their 
sentencing audited, and where it has proved ineffective they should 
be held to account. If all drugs were legally regulated imprisonment 
would reduce by about 65%.

Imprisonment evolved after the Napoleonic wars ended and the new PoW 
prisons like Dartmoor emptied. Before this, circuit judges went on 
circuit to empty jails, not fill them. We have many other effective, 
humane options that the probation service could operate using funds 
wasted on imprisonment. Two probation officers cost less than one 
imprisoned adult or four children. The criminal justice system has 
been told this for years by our most senior judges and yet it does 
nothing. Why?

Mick Humphreys

Taunton, Somerset
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