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Argument for Increased Prison Sentences in British Criminal Justice - Essay Example

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This paper "Argument for Increased Prison Sentences in British Criminal Justice" focuses on the fact that it has been argued by many over many years that imprisonment is expensive and ineffective yet continues to be a major feature of penal policy in Britain’s justice system.   …
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Extract of sample "Argument for Increased Prison Sentences in British Criminal Justice"

Download file to see previous pages The addition of prison time, while effective for keeping habitual criminals off the street, serves to further overcrowd prisons. This situation creates a ‘revolving door’ effect which releases violent criminals early and adds to an environment that is hardly conducive to rehabilitation.

A strong argument for increased prison sentences is the positive consequences of deterrence. However, the significant increase in the prison population has not correlated with a similar reduction in violent crime. The evidence showing whether an increase in prisoners is cost-effective in regards to a reduction of crime is mixed. Research demonstrates that “prison may have cost beneficial for violent crimes, but it also shows that it is unrealistic to expect huge reductions in violent crime with large increases in imprisonment” (Cohen & Canela-Cacho, 1994).

In the UK, the most punitive nation in Western Europe, the prison population (as of January 20, 2006) of 75,363 is still hovering near the all-time high of 75,544 reached in April 2004 (“Why the Prison”, 2006). As of statistics gathered in 2003, England and Wales imprisoned 141 people per 100,000. “More than three-fifths of countries (62.5 per cent) have rates below 150 per 100,000. The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, some 686 per 100,000 of the national population” (Walmsley, 2003). From 1993 to 2003, the prison population increased by 66 per cent, 191 per cent for women. The rapid growth in the prison population has not been fuelled by escalating crime rates nor by an increase in the number of offenders appearing before the courts. “Since peaking in 1995, BCS crime has fallen by 44 per cent, representing 8.5 million fewer crimes, with vehicle crime and burglary falling by over a half (both by 57 per cent) and violent crime falling by 43 per cent during this period” (Nicholas et al, 2005). Harsher sentencing, it is argued, has resulted in our ever-increasing prison population.    ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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