Mills - Community Sentences: A Solution to Penal Excess?
Examining Community Sentencing in Whales
Late 1990s high prison population
The intention of this paper
What can be learnt from the attempts to manage prison demands by reforming community sentences?
And what are the implications and challenges for penal reformers going forward?
Use of prison is excessive
Wale’s prison population rising since 1990s
By 2009 the prison population 1/3 larger
Prison demands represents a fundamental shift in the use of custody
Changing Community Sentences
Aim is to reduce prison population by reforming community sentences
How community sentences might replace some custodial sentences
Sentencing – The issue
The problem of and solution to prison growth is located within a sentencing practice
Prison population has increased is that more severe sentencing has been driven by a more punitive climate
Create an environment for judges to make more and better use of community sentences.
More willing to impose community-based sentences as oppose to custodial sentences
Community Sentencing – The Alternative?
Non-custodial options are often more effective in reducing re-offending and facilitating rehabilitation.
1. By promoting the use of high quality community sentencing we can help achieve the […] vision of less crime, safer communities, fewer people in prison.
2. More widespread use of effective community sentences would both allows us to
3. Reduce the use prison and reinvest resources into local communities to cut offending
Why is prison population growth an issue?
CJS cost and prison service strain
Cost-effectiveness and reducing reconvictions
Increased punitiveness has led to some custodial sentences being served by those for whom it is not a justified or appropriate response
Costly and overcrowded prison system is detrimental to rehabilitation
Effectiveness of Community Sentences?
Numbers subject to community sentences had increased by over 10% and these community sentences were more onerous regarding breach which led to a prison population that was nearly 1/3 larger by 2009 compared to 1998
The changes to community sentences implemented in 2005 provide a specific intervention that can be assessed in terms of its intended diversion effect on custody
Reforms were introduced by the government with the intention of persuading judges and the public that community sentences were credible enough to be used in place of some short-term custodial sentences
Suspended sentence order is aimed at those who had crossed the custody threshold, to allow judges to impose a custodial sentence that could be served in the community; it applied to custodial sentences of 12 months
The data in this paper have told a clear story of failure for those concerned