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criminal justice and the probation service... [Jun. 5th, 2009|12:00 pm]
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Rod Morgan is one of the most respected Criminal Justice Experts in the country.  I've been to two lectures given by him on Youth Justice, and they were clear, well thought through and full of excellent analysis of the evidence presented.  This analysis was then set against the backdrop of available resources, and the deficit between the two was used to extrapolate what is needed for the CJS to continue improving. 
He was by no means excusing any failures in the current system, but he was prepared to recognise its positive aspects, and then recommend improvements.  And he ought to know, he was head of the Youth justice Board for several years, before he retired because he didn't believe in the way it was heading. 

This article is...well you can read it for yourselves.  It is resonant of all the statistical data I've read over the last year, and rings true in the general trend of crime in this country.  The general trend being, of course, that crime rates are dropping.  There is a DEFINITE downward trend and has been for at least the last decade.  Every source of crime statistics (The British Crime Survey and other independant studies as well as  the Home Office) agree that Crime is on a downward slope. 
It is NOT going up, no matter what the papers say.  The public may THINK it is going up, but the fact is it isn't.  The public are living in the delusional belief of the 'perception gap' i.e. they perceive crime to be much higher, and on the increase, than it is, and it is actually going down fairly steadily.  

Cases like this and Baby P www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/may/22/baby-p-timeline genuinely DO illustrate sad failings of the system.  The system does have some flaws that could be improved upon, but not without cash, and not just cash, but cash going to the right places. It's no good building the proposed Titan Prisons (p.s. I realise that downgrading from 2,500 to 1,500 is a lot of downgrade, but its still a HUGE prison, larger than any we currently have, and more likely to face the problems they have in the USA, i.e. pretty much everything you DON'T want to be going on in a prison) news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8015999.stm and expecting that to solve everything.  Fact is, our criminal law puts people in prison who don't need to be there, but not through failings of judges, lawyers (though inevitably there will be some human error in any system, even if the system itself were sound), probation officers, social workers or anyone else.  It's the fault of the Parliament passing daft legislation, rushed through in order to appease the uncalculably stupid public, who make comments such as:
"Is controlling the breeding habits of the lower orders an answer? And yes, that would mean state control of reproduction. After all we, society, have to deal with the mess afterwards of mopping up after them. So, why not interfere before they actually drop drug and alcohol damaged babies straight into the laps of the expensive social service and criminal justice system???"

It makes me so bloody angry.  And of course, the media has its own role to take responsibility for.  Never report on how well the prison service is doing, do they.  Did you know that escapes from prison were at an all-time low last year?  That hundreds of thousands of offenders are successfully rehabilitated every single year?  That the average literacy level of an offender is 11 years old?  No.  And why?  Because God forbid the media lets us have some sympathy for these people, most of whom are seriously diasadvantaged individuals.  

What we need is money spent on staffing in the prison and probabtion services so that reports given to judges are of a better quality, and greater judicial discretion, aided by better sentencing submissions from barristers and solicitors, in order to put in prison those who need to be there, for the right length of time and with the right rehabilitation programs in place.  The mental health service also desperately needs attention so that there are enough places for mentally disturbed offenders can be sent to somewhere they can get the help they need without presenting a danger to themselves and the public, or other inmates. 

This made me so angry, I had to post about it somewhere.  What is your opinion? 

BTW, I'm new to this community. I'm a criminology, sentencing and the penal system student from England-its one of the year-long electives I study for my law degree.  Nice to meet you all.