Found some interesting material online when doing some background reading on this.
Chapter One of this document (it begins on page 11) may be of interest to a number of you. The chapter is entitled "Impact of court sentences on proven re-offending rates". The results are given later in the document (tabulated from page 20 onwards). A summary of them is available on page 16 which I will copy below.
[/list]The document is well worth a read if you have the time and inclination to do so, the results are quite surprising in places.
Sums up what I've always suspected. Short prison sentences don't work. People either need to be given significant sentences or dealt with through other means where appropriate.
There are some countries that go to significant effort in rehabilitating offenders, and others that will simply lock criminals away for a long while, both as a deterrent and to keep them away from the public. Both methods work to some extent but the UK seems unique in that we have neither. We don't rehabilitate criminals nor do we lock up serious offenders for any significant amounts of time.
We don't seem to do much to prevent first-time offenders from falling into becoming revolving door criminals.
Giving people short sentences resulting in people serving as little as several weeks in prison is a completely useless waste of time and money. If someone has done something that doesn't merit locking them up for more than a few months then they don't deserve to be locked up at all and should be dealt with through alternative methods.
That said there are plenty of prolific criminals out there who simply don't care about community orders, driving bans and the likes and will continue to do whatever they want until they either die or commit a crime serious enough to get them sent down for a long while. If we tried more to rehabilitate these people before
they start their criminal careers proper then all that could be prevented. When rehabilitation fails they need to be given proper sentences to reflect that their behaviour won't be tolerated by society, and we can look at addressing their behaviour during their stay in prison. After spending a few years inside they might rethink their lives and give up. They may continue regardless, but unfortunately some people are beyond saving.
Edit: Someone seems to have "rated" this thread 1/5. It would be interesting if they elaborated as to why they think this is such a poor thread. Do they disagree that some people think English prisons are like a spa? Some criminals certainly think so. Or do they think the issue is something that shouldn't be brought up?
Edited by Stratos, 20 February 2012 - 11:47 PM.