Judge: Sarah Evans (Binghamton University)
Resolution: This house believes that prisons should be abolished
Hank De Hoyos
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Posted at April 21, 2015 09:09:36AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz
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Posted at April 21, 2015 11:07:08PM EST by Hank De Hoyos
Prisons are the most cost effective option
DR DAVID GREEN June 2006
David Green is director of think-tank Civitas.
A sense of deepening crisis hangs over our prison system. While public concern mounts over short sentences for serious offenders, parts of our political elite and judiciary express anxiety about the size of the inmate population and the supposedly excessive use of custody. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, claims that our jails are now full to capacity, barely able to cope with current demands. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, warns that too many criminals are being sent to prison in the first place. And a large phalanx of lobby groups, such as the Prison Reform Trust, argues that the jail system only encourages crime by dehumanising its inmates. It is, to use one of the campaigners' favourite slogans, 'an expensive way of making bad people worse'. But as the problem of overcrowding becomes more intense, neither the Government nor the judicial establishment seems willing to contemplate the obvious solution: build more prisons. This is partly because of the perceived costs, partly because of the Left-wing ideology which holds that prisons in themselves are a bad idea. According to such thinking, a large prison population should be regarded as a badge of shame in a civilised society. Wasted
But such an outlook is utterly misguided. For the truth is that prisons are not only the most effective method of protecting the public from criminal behaviour, they are also, in the long-term, cheaper than the alternatives. The entire cost of running our prisons is just 2.2billion, barely a fraction of the cost of the welfare state. To put it in perspective, that is smaller than the sum wasted every year on benefit fraud. And given that the cost of crime across the country is estimated at 60billion a year, a prison system for 2.2billion is surely a bargain. It is absurd to argue that 21st-century Britain, one of the most affluent countries in the world, with public expenditure now over 520billion per year, cannot afford to build any more prisons and therefore has to treat convicted criminals more leniently. Anti-prison campaigners are, of course, fond of claiming that jail does not work, pointing to the high levels of re-offending among ex-convicts. But this is to ignore the crucial point that when a criminal is locked up, it is physically impossible for him to commit any offences. He may return to his life of crime once he is released, but at least when he is inside, the public is safe from him. There are sobering statistics to show just how many crimes he might have committed had he not been locked up. According to a Home Office survey in 2000, the average inmate committed 140 crimes in the 12 months before his admission into custody. On that basis, if we locked up 10,000 more offenders a year, we could prevent 1.4 million offences, saving the public purse a fortune as well as reducing aggravation for law-abiding citizens. The indisputable fact is that, according to police records and the authoritative British Crime Survey, crime levels have fallen when more offenders have been sent to prison. Yet the conjunction of a rising jail population and declining crime causes the anti-prison brigade to descend into tortuously illogical thinking and intellectual absurdities as they refuse to face up to the facts. So John Denham, the normally well-balanced Labour MP who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, absurdly stated at the weekend that he could not see why we were jailing so many people at a time of falling crime. Is he really so blinded by dogma that he cannot see that crime is on the way down precisely because more criminals are being kept off the streets? The lesson of recent history is that prison works. We should be celebrating that reality by building more jails, not wringing our hands about overcrowding It was the Tory politician Michael Howard who first challenged the progressive consensus. Until he became Home Secretary in 1993, the conventional wisdom was that rising crime was inevitable and that the duty of the Government was to keep as many offenders as possible out of jail. Mrs Thatcher was known as the Iron Lady, but there was nothing tough about her administration's penal policy. Successive Home Secretaries such as Douglas Hurd and Kenneth Clarke swallowed the anti-prison line which predominated at the Home Office, allowing the widespread use of parole, cautions, executive early release and community sentences and massively extending criminals' rights through measures such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. As a result, the crime rate soared.
Tougher sentences reduce crime
Toby Helm and Jamie Doward July 7 2012
Both Helm and Doward are journalists at the Guardian
Tougher prison sentences reduce crime, particularly burglary, according to ground-breaking research. The study, by academics at Birmingham University, also found that during periods when police detect more offences, crime tends to fall overall, suggesting that levels of police activity and therefore of staffing have a direct impact on criminal activity. The findings are likely to be seized on by critics of the government's plans for reducing the number of police officers as part of spending cuts. The research, carried out for Civitas, an independent thinktank, used local sentencing data released by the Ministry of Justice under freedom of information requests to track the effectiveness of penal policy and policing on recorded crime across the 43 forces in England and Wales between 1993 and 2008. The researchers concluded that prison was particularly effective in reducing property crime when targeted at serious and repeat offenders. They concluded that an increase of just one month in the average sentence length for burglaries from 15.4 to 16.4 months would reduce burglaries in the following year by 4,800, out of an annual total of 962,700. For fraud, an increase in sentences from 9.7 to 10.7 months would result in a reduction of 4,700 offences a year, out of 242,400. The report declares this to be "a substantial effect, especially when we consider that the length of sentence usually corresponds to approximately half the actual time spent in custody". The study also estimates that a policy of forcing offenders to serve a higher proportion of their sentences in prison would have a further dramatic effect on cutting crime, in part because more offenders would be behind bars for longer. If offenders were made to serve two-thirds of their sentence in custody, rather than the current half, it suggests that there would be 21,000 fewer recorded burglaries and 11,000 fewer recorded frauds in England and Wales. The findings tend to support the thrust of policies followed by the last Labour government, which increased funding to the police and concentrated on the roughly 100,000 persistent offenders responsible for a high proportion of crime. This approach increased the prison population, but it also led to reductions in overall levels of crime. By contrast, the current justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, often questions the relationship between criminal justice policy and the level of crime and suggests that economic factors may be just as, if not more, important. Clarke has been involved in a long-running dispute with one of his Tory predecessors, Michael Howard, whose mantra that "prison works" became associated with his time at the Home Office. In 2010 Clarke questioned whether tough penal policy cut crime: "No one can prove cause and effect. The crime rate fell [under Labour], but was this the consequence of the policies of my successors as home secretary or, dare I gently hint, mine as chancellor of the exchequer at the beginning of a period of growth and strong employment? We will never know." The report says there is "unequivocal" evidence that more sustained and effective policing cuts crime. "More detection is associated with substantial reductions in crime. It plays a sustained role in preventing crime," says the study, which found that a 1% increase in the detection rate would prevent 26,000 burglaries, 85,000 thefts, 2,500 robberies and 1,800 frauds a year. However, the director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, Andrew Neilson, questioned the claims. "The effect of prison on reducing crime has never been proven and this research falls short of doing so," Neilson said. "There are numerous international examples of jurisdictions which have experienced both falls in crime and falls in prison numbers. Research by the last government supports claims made since by Kenneth Clarke that factors such as a benign economy and improved home security had greater roles to play in the fall in crime in England and Wales than an increase in the use of imprisonment." Neilson also said that the research ignores the "clear failure of prison as spelled out in reoffending rates". He added: "Lengthening prison sentences at additional cost when prisons are already failing will not provide lasting solutions to crime."Acquisitive Crime: Imprisonment, Detection and Social Factors" will be published at civitas.org.uk on Monday
Posted at April 23, 2015 08:11:02AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz
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This match has been completed. Show the Decision.
Submitted at April 25, 2015 09:10:26AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz
The decision is for the Proposition: Ubu Suzuki
Reason for Decision:
The opposition failed to upload their closing speech by the deadline, resulting in a forfeit.