Tougher jail sentences not the answer claim experts despite high reoffending rate
PUBLISHED: 08:00 13 September 2019
A quarter of North Somerset's criminals reoffend within 12 months of being punished by the courts, Government statistics have revealed.
Ministry of Justice (MOJ) figures show 25 per cent of 1,150 adults from the district released from prison - or those cautioned or handed a non-custodial conviction - in the year preceding September 2017 went on to commit another crime within 12 months.
The 289 reoffenders committed 1,099 new offences following their initial punishment at an average of four each.
Prison reform advocate Howard League for Penal Reform has said the high reoffending rate is a product of a revolving door justice system, with short sentences and cramped jails doing little to rehabilitate criminals back into society.
Its chief executive, Frances Crook, said: "Cramming more and more people into prisons is a recipe for squalor, violence, drug abuse and mental distress - and, as these figures show, ultimately more crime.
"Introducing an assumption against short prison sentences, as has been implemented in Scotland, would better protect the public because evidence published by the Ministry of Justice shows that short bursts of imprisonment lead to more offending and more victims.
"For children, the evidence is even clearer.
"The more contact a child has with the criminal justice system, the more entrenched they are likely to become - and this pushes up offending rates."
North Somerset's reoffending rate is higher among children, with 34 per cent of the 80 offenders younger than 18 years old carrying out another crime within a year of a previous offence.
The MOJ says the number of children entering the justice system has dropped dramatically in the past decade, despite the high reoffending rate.
Its spokesman added: "Reoffending creates more victims of crime and costs society over £18billion a year - that's why we're creating a system that can rehabilitate offenders while ensuring robust monitoring takes place in the community.
"In order to achieve this we are giving offenders the skills and support they need to succeed in the outside world, while our probation reforms will make sure licence conditions are enforced consistently."