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Some facts about the Coalition's dangerous prisons policy

By Tim Montgomerie

The cost of keeping someone in jail is well known. The cost of not putting repeat offenders in jail is, I would argue, much greater. In the last 48 hours The Times (£) reported Ken Clarke's prison closures programme. In The Sunday Telegraph we learn of important research by Philip Davies MP, noting the number of repeat offenders who do not go to jail. In the graphic below I summarise these two reports' disclosures and add in some research by David Green of Civitas.

Screen shot 2010-11-07 at 11.10.55

At the heart of Michael Howard's prisons work policy was one simple fact; when criminals are in prison they can't commit crime. This role of prison - incarceration - is more important than any other and produced the reduction in crime since the mid 1990s that we have all benefited from. It was one of Conservatism's greatest policy successes of the post 1979 era. Yes we should improve the rehabilitation effects of prison but society is protected when repeat and serious offenders are jailed. Clarke's alternative recipe of community sentences has a 91% average failure rate.

And let us not forget what the Tory manifesto (p57) promised:

"In the last three years, 80,000 criminals have been released early from prison because the government failed to build enough places. We are determined that early release will not be introduced again, so we will redevelop the prison estate and increase capacity as necessary to stop it."

And some final numbers from today's YouGov/ Sunday Times poll:

Screen shot 2010-11-07 at 11.51.40


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