Is the Prison service failing to meet its aims?
In order to establish the extent to which prisons meet their aims it is vital to understand exactly what the main aims of prisons are. There are four main functions which prisons have and as such it can be said that these functions are in fact their aims. Prisons aim to: protect society; punish offenders, act as a deterrent; to rehabilitate. This chapter will consider each of these aims and the extent to which they are being met.
Firstly, one of the main aims of prisons is to protect society from individuals who have committed serious crimes and are as such considered to be a danger to society. As of 14th March 2008 there were 7,650 prisoners in Scottish prisons. The simple fact that these have been incarcerated and removed from society and are therefore not a threat to that society proves that prisons do protect the public. However from a parliamentary question asked in January 2007 it was discovered that 540 UK citizens who had committed serious or violent offences abroad were not in jail. It can also be argued that the constraints placed on judges in terms of maximum terms for offences or constraints of the remand system mean that serious offenders can be free in communities long before they perhaps should be. A recent example if this was the case of Adam swellings who was convicted of the murder of Gary Newlove only hours after his release on bail. Therefore although prisons do protect society to a significant extent there are obvious cases where violent or serious offenders are still at large in our communities.
A second aim of prisons is to punish offenders for the crimes they have committed. This means that an offender should be in a position to accept and deal with the consequences of their actions while at the same time acting as a deterrent to others intent on committing the same crime. Whilst incarcerated there is an obligation to adhere to the prison regime of meal times, work, exercise,...
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