Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday Thoughts - Tagging

More than 1,000 violent crimes, including five killings, have been committed by prisoners released early with electronic tags, it has emerged.
Home Office figures show tagged offenders have committed one murder and four manslaughters, among other crimes, since the scheme began in 1999.
Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said a balance had to be struck between rehabilitating prisoners, and public safety.
But the Conservatives said it showed a "shocking disregard for public safety".
Under the Home Detention Curfew, prisoners can be released up to four and a half months early, as long as they wear an electronic tag.

MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Commitee said it cost £70 a day less to enforce a curfew, than keep people in jail.
But chairman Edward Leigh said too many crimes were being committed by people released early with tags, and not enough information was getting back to the prison governors who made the decision to release them.
In one case, Danny Cann from south London battered a man to death with a baseball bat, after being freed early from a jail term for robbery. He was later convicted of murder.
Mr Sutcliffe, a Home Office minister, said less than 4% of people offended while wearing tags.

"Most people see it as a good scheme to help them back into society," he told the BBC.
"There has to be a punishment, as far as the sentence is concerned, but there has to be rehabilitation as well."
The prison population reached a record 79,843 at the weekend with, in theory, just 125 more spaces left.
In response, on Monday, Home Secretary John Reid outlined a series of measures to relieve pressure on prisons - including freeing up 500 spaces in police cells from Thursday.

It is not clear whether they will be needed yet, as Mr Sutcliffe said the number of prisoners had been "reduced" this week.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "Compared with the soaring reconviction rates for all those leaving our overcrowded jails and the cost to the public purse of more than £11bn a year from reoffending, the Home Detention Curfew makes sound economic sense."
For the Conservatives, shadow home secretary David Davis said the report raised serious questions about the way tagging was being used.
"With so many serious offences being committed it is clear the government is showing a shocking disregard for public safety."
While ministers said a reoffending rate while tagged of below 4% was good - his view was that those offences would not have happened had the prisoners not been freed early under the tagging scheme.

He said he was in favour of tagging - but only for offenders to wear for a period once they have completed their sentence.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said flaws in the tagging system could be "laid squarely at the government's feet for failing to implement the system competently in practice".
Former senior probation officer David Fraser said the government should abandon tagging altogether.
"Supervising persistent offenders in the community, with or without a tag, is disastrous for the public," he said.
"The public need to be protected from crime. It is absolutely amazing that [the government] are able, somehow, to ignore this. What must happen? They are sleepwalking into civil unrest, in my view."

Comment from Forum: Wearing a tag doesn't prevent further crimes, it means you can do your crime but must be home by 7o'clock. Geff Grate, UK
Story from BBC

Sounds pretty good, unless you're the officer who has to visit the families of the murder victims.

We now seem to have a society that is at loggerheads over our penal system, which is full to capacity. Rehabilitation is working in some cases, but a lot of released prisoners re-offend, most moving up the felony ladder.
What can be done?



Fizzy said...

Round here, the people that wear tags do so with almost a sense of pride.... there is no shame.

Is this a shameless society as well as a blameless society?

A good post CQ something isn't working correctly id we only have 125 prison places left!!!

keda said...

i saw this story and considered posting about.. but still couldn't seem to feel any opinion or angle on it.
it's just depressing.. i'll think on...

Juggling Mother said...

We are at loggerheads with our penal system because we can't decide/admit what we want from it.

"Rehabilitation is working in some cases" but we don't really try to rehabilitate them - you cant when their stacked 4 to a cell designed for 1 or 2, locked in for 20 hours a day & sentanced according to media outcry.

The main thrust of this gov't penal system has been "get em off the streets", hence so mamny new laws & overcrowded prisons. But this doesn't work long term, unless you re willing to pay for everyone to be inside forever!

Some countries do have fantastic rehab stats - their penal systems cost more, are removed from the public/media frenzy & are what the Sun would call "holiday camps for criminals". Some countries work on punishment to reduce recidivism rates - they generally have the death penalty, unacceptable (to us) prison conditions and summery trials. We can't decide & so far have gone for the worst of both orlds!

Le laquet said...

I feel very sorry for the people of Dover at the moment, there's an old army barracks there that the government want to change into an open prison! Surely there's soemthing else we can do .. to stop people reoffending?

Unknown said...

Hating to sound all lefty liberal but you tackle crime by tackling the causes of crime, poverty, poor education, drugs being amongst the main root causes.

That is not to say that there simply aren't 'bad' people but a lot perhaps even most crime (at least at the start) is motivated by need.

Invest in communities, get non-violent offenders to work in the community improving lighting, picking up litter, cleaning graffiti, repairing walls or roads or paths, digging garden areas and planting trees - give them basic skills and a chance to start again whilst improving the area they come from...?

The current scheme certaintly 'aint working and locking someone up for 20hours a day is never going to lead to healthy social adjustment on release...

Jean-Luc Picard said...

You can't just tell the prisoners "Don't do it again."

Unknown said...

I think you'll find the liberal idea of treating everybody, including criminals as victims os not helping. One day you just have to admit to doing something wrong, accept it, accept your punishment and improve yourself. It's how people, and animals learn. Rewards good behaviour, punish bad. Do remember Clockwork Orange before you start deifying wrongdoers.

Do remember the people that are not breaking laws and harming others. Perhaps they deserve and should expect the same thought and effort some want to spend on those that are currently locked away.

What should be done?
Start by punishing when required. This includes sorting out gangs of angry, bitter youths, spitting, bad language etc etc. Stop making everybody to be victims. Pride and responsibility are what is needed, not passing the buck to more government deptsand the classic 'somebody should do something about it'.