It Is Often Stated That Prison Does Not Work Because of the High Recidivism Rates. Why Do You Think the Prison Population Has Increased so Much in the Last Ten Years?

Topics: Prison, Crime, Criminal justice Pages: 5 (1728 words) Published: May 20, 2013
What is Recidivism- Recidivism is a term, applied in the Criminal Justice System for criminals who despite having been punished for a crime go on to repeat it, only to be returned to a custodial sentence. It is for this particular reason that the penal system need to decide whether the system is effective in doing its job, or reforms are needed to improve the way it conducts itself. What causes Recidivism?

Recidivism is caused by criminals who have been through the courts and prison system and still refuse to turn away from crime; the causes of repeat crime may involve many social factors, such as society, the economic climate, or family issues that may affect the criminal in a negative manner. Perhaps the need for more government agencies is needed in order to rehabilitate the prisoners from repeating their crimes. It is obvious from the rate of the rise of recidivism than more is needed to be done that is being at present. One of the major reasons that the prison population has increased in the last ten years, may be to do with the economic climate and social factors. Despite the fact the prisoners may be taught skills in prison they may not necessarily be the skills they require for the world once they are released.

Another reason could be the fact that perhaps not enough tough sentences are being passed down, therefore making prison a very easy option. According to BBC4 the recidivism rate in the United Kingdom is 50%. The reason for this rate, although high is, lower than the rate in the United States (60%) The lower rate of recidivism is due to the focus UK has on rehabilitation and education of prisoners. However at 50% the rate is very high and not acceptable due to the fact that these are all repetition of the crimes that were the cause of custodial sentences.

According to the Ministry of Justice; Story of the Prison Population 1995-2009-England and Wales, statistics Bulletin (2008), there are many factors present which have contributed to the rise in the prison population. The significant rise in the prison population, from 32,500 or 66% since 1995 took place within two segments of the prison population. The first segment was the immediate custody of offenders (78%) and those recalled to prison for breaking the conditions of their release, this accounted for 11%. 1995 saw an increase due to courts sentencing more offenders to prison between 1995-2002, this together with the fact that offenders were staying in prison for longer . Furthermore the Criminal Justice Act 2003, made it easier for the recalling of offenders and the increase in recall and longer prison sentences, reflected the high numbers in the prison population. What caused the change?

The increase in the prison population of England and Wales from 1995-2009, were: * Tougher sentences were given out
* Enforcement outcomes
* Mix of more serious groups of offences coming before courts. * Certain offences were given greater lengths of sentences due to the change in legislation and policy changes. * Indeterminate sentences for public protection handed down, ie mandatory minimum and increased maximum sentences * Likelihood of offenders being recalled to prison due to breaching their release licence conditions. The two major offence groups that have had a particular and significant impact on the growth of the prison population are: VATP (Violence against the Person) and drug offences, since the rise of terms in their custodial sentences was increased. This combined with longer determinate sentences for drugs and increased use of indeterminate sentences for the VATP, made the prison population larger than it had been. What has happened to the prison Population since 1995?

January 1995-June 1998
* The increase of 16,200, the volume of offenders receiving custodial sentences rates rose from 22% to 25%. VATP and drug offenders made up one third of the increased volumes. * Increase in the...

References: Acquisitive Crime: Imprisonment, Detection and Social ... - Civitas
(9 July 2009)
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Longer prison terms really do cut crime, study shows Law The Observer (7 July 2012)
(Accessed 1 December 2012)
Story of the prison population 1995 - 2009 ..
(Accessed 2 December 2012)
Reducing reoffending: the "what works" debate - Commons Library Research Paper House of Commons Library (23 November 2012) (Accessed 3 December 2012)
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