Reduce jail terms - but make prisons harsher
We are told that "prison doesn't work" because so many prisoners are recidivists, so we should give those who break the law, regardless of how often, community service instead.
But now we are told that community service doesn't work either. Shouldn't we now therefore start looking at prison sentencing again. Why doesn't it work?
The response to this question is almost invariably because we don't spend enough money on prisons and prisoners. And this despite the fact that more money is being spent on more prisoners than ever before throughout our history.
So perhaps we should consider spending a lot less money, and see what that gets us.
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For a start, if spending time in prison was less comfortable, we could introduce shorter sentences. Many young men, who constitute the majority of prisoners, would find 28 days of being confined to a cell with no form of entertainment whatsoever, apart from a radio tuned to Radio 4 and possibly 3 (one does not wish to be too brutal) hard to bear. They would have the option of attending classes, either in the basic 3Rs or some form of skill training for an hour daily, and a half hour of organised exercise. No fraternising allowed in either.
Add to this a diet which contained little sugar and no fried food, definitely nothing junk, just very plain fish/meat, boiled potatoes and other vegetables, with porridge only for breakfast.
There would be no menu to choose from and food would be offered on a take it or leave it basis.
This semi-isolation, and deprivation of TV and all other forms of entertainment, coupled with a diet free of chips, would be punishment enough for many young men, making them plan to avoid a return, Particularly if a second offence meant doubling the original sentence.
However, for the foreign prisoners we now house, many accustomed to harsh regimes, the above would not be considered particularly arduous at all.
But why are we housing them anyway? I am sure that, if our government offered the prison services of their homeland the cost of keeping them under lock and key here, with perhaps a little extra, their country of origin would agree to their serving their sentence in their own familiar surroundings, as prison costs so much less in the countries from which most of our foreign prisoners come. This would also avoid the possibility of our authorities "forgetting" to deport foreign criminals at the end of their sentence.