We’re not greatly happy with the idea of short jail sentences. A few weeks here or there seems enough to bugger up a life without acting as all that great a deterrent. Well, unless we think that buggering up a life, losing jobs, housing, families even, is just the sort of deterrent we need. Which, to someone in a comfortable middle class life it might be – who wouldn’t be deterred by a life turned upside down?
The lumpenproletariat who make up our habitual criminal classes have rather more chaotic lives in the first place, the deterrent effect of a couple of months pokey might not be there. Actually, given reoffending rates, almost certainly isn’t there.
If jail was what someone got for screwing up – shoplifting some food to pap for the starving babbies – then that would all be fair enough. The ill effects might outweigh the good and therefore we’ll not do this.
However, that’s not quite the case:
Criminals jailed for six months or less have committed more than 50 previous offences on average, new figures show in a blow to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) plans to abolish short sentences. Offenders sentenced to immediate custodial terms of up to six months in England and Wales had on average 55.9 previous offences resulting in convictions or cautions, according to MoJ data. The figures – released in parliamentary answers – also showed offenders locked up for six months or less had on average been given five previous community sentences.
Those who do get jugged for these short sentences seem not to be first time offenders, nor those caught in too severe a system. They in fact seem to be the habitual criminals of the lumpenproletariat.
Which leaves us with something of a problem really. Jail only happens when all the non-jail options have been tried but which don’t seem to have altered behaviour. So, if we don’t jug them then what the hell do we do to the buggers?
Answers on a postcard to the Home Office….