Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More flack for Reid

Having just returned from a bank holiday break, John Reid is already bracing himself for another barrage of criticism aimed at the Home Office.

Lord Phillips, lord chief justice of England and Wales, told the Guardian that overcrowding in prisons is “absolutely fatal”, and that courts should refrain from handing out custodial sentences unless absolutely necessary for the protection of the public.

He also slated drug rehabilitation in the community, saying that some users were deliberately breaking the law in order to get on prison help programmes (from what I’ve heard about the availability of hard drugs inside I can think of other reasons for wanting to get nicked, but that’s another story).

“Short sharp sentences” were pointless, he added, and better hospital provision should be made for offenders with mental health problems.

On community sentencing, however, he remarked that some alternatives to prison lacked a “significant punishment” value.

The comments fly in the face of the government’s stance on the use of prison and come after he visited Brixton jail last week and spoke to inmates and staff.

The Prison Reform Trust’s Juliet Lyons said: “Prisoners and prison staff are standing in the wreckage of a system treated like a political football by all those determined to talk tough on crime.”

What do you think John, fit for purpose, or…?

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