“Radical” criminal justice reforms unveiled
7 December 2010
The arrest of Wikileaks chief Julian Assange has meant that the Ministry of Justice’s “radical” reform program for the criminal justice system has received less attention then it might otherwise have.
Although clearly accidental, the timing may suit the justice secretary, who has received criticism from within his own party in relation to his plans to send thousands fewer offenders to jail in the coming years. The MoJ have said:
The green paper on sentencing and rehabilitation sets out plans to break the destructive cycle of crime and prison by ensuring that jails become places of hard work, that rehabilitation programmes are opened up to innovation from the private and charitable sectors, paid by results, and that the priority will now be to reduce the reoffending by people after they have been punished.
The green paper, “Breaking the cycle: effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders” can be downloaded here. There has already been significant commentary in the press, for example in the Guardian: Ken Clarke’s focus on mental health is bold and progressive by Mark Davies, and ‘Prison works’ – but this is no way to cut crime by Alan Travis.
The MoJ have summarised the reforms as follows:
- making offenders work hard through the discipline of regular working hours in prison, more demanding tasks in the community, and greater use of tough curfew requirements
- increasing reparation to victims through greater use of restorative justice, implementing the Prisoners’ Earnings Act and other reforms to make offenders directly compensate victims of crime
- rehabilitating offenders by getting them off drugs and benefits and into honest work
- introducing payment-by-results so that independent providers will be rewarded for reducing reoffending – this will be paid for by the savings that this will generate within the criminal justice system
- simplifying the sentencing framework to make it more comprehensible to the public, enhancing judicial discretion and reforming the indeterminate sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP)
- improving youth justice to prevent and tackle offending by young people and stop them becoming the career criminals of tomorrow
- working with communities to reduce crime, with local people playing a more central role in criminal justice – moving the focus from the centre to local areas; creating more opportunities for other providers to deliver services and increasing transparency so that local communities are better able to hold services to account.
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