Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cut to the bone

The Con-Lib government yesterday came out with their long awaited and well feared comprehensive spending review. As expected, there was blood everywhere from the deep cuts imposed over the next several years. Perhaps nowhere were these as keenly felt as in the Ministry of Justice where budget savings are expected of over 25%. Obviously 25% saving cannot be achieved with 'economies of scale' or 'cutting the fat'. To reduce costs by 25% the Ministry is expected to close prisons, put less people in prison, slash legal aid, close courts, cut staff, reduce the CPS, put those already in prison out to work and sell off property. All of these steps might just bring them close to meeting their savings target. One of the most interesting comments however came from Ken Clark the Lord Chancellor who said that it is nigh upon impossible to rehabilitate a person who is sentenced to prison for under a year. Obviously the notion is that with the cost of every one person in jail to the taxpayer of about 40,000 pound a year it is better to have lesser offenses dealt with by income generating fines or some form of community service. More importantly perhaps is the acknowledgement that short term prison sentences are far more retributive in nature than rehabilitative. Personally, I believe the punishment should have a strong retributive aspect, if not for deterrence, then for the mere fact that criminal behavior should be punished. However maybe some creative thinking is involved in seeing what actually might be the best punishment for those convicted of crime. I will give some thought to it and should you have any suggestions I would love to hear them…

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