The Ministry of Justice of The United Kingdom recently released a comprehensive report/proposal on effective punishment, rehabilitation, and sentencing to provide solutions to the revolving prison door that plagues Britain.
Presently, about one-third of U.K. men have received a criminal conviction of some kind by age forty. 61% of prisoners released from sentences reoffend within a year, and 59% of accused offenders are recidivists.
On a more uplifting note, total crime against individuals has fallen 45% from its peak in 1995, but has flattened out in the past six years. The Ministry of Justice has expanded the use of community sentences instead of custodial sentences for juveniles, and has seen great success. Its proposal hopes to expand the scope of community sentencing for adults as well, and it anticipates similar results.
The report highlights a number of “promising approaches” which the Ministry believes can greatly improve effectiveness and financial efficiency. These include a number of community integration programs and initiatives to streamline parole reporting. The report also suggests a look at justice reinvestment as a model, and it specifically cites the successes of the Kansas reinvestment package of 2007.
Included in the promising approaches is a suggestion that Marc Levin of Right On Crime recently suggested for Texas, a new approach to performance measures that deemphasize volume and instead focus on outcomes. The concept is simple: “voluntary, private and potentially other public sector organisations are contracted by government to achieve a specified outcome (e.g. a reduction in offending), rather than being paid for processes or outputs (such as number of offenders passing through a programme).” A pilot program is in place in England now.
The proposal also emphasizes the great economic benefit of implementing reforms to help solve these problems. Crimes cost Britons an estimated £35 billion in 2009/10, and prison expenditure has nearly doubled in the last fifteen years (up £2 billion). The report cites the Drug Treatment Outcome Research Study, which estimates that every £1 spent on treatment will yield a societal benefit of £2.50.
Those interested in the details/methodology of the report can find it on the Ministry of Justice’s website.