Ken Clarke’s recent comments in relation to prisons has caused a stir. My view is very clear; there are some crimes that require a prison sentence (to protect the public and punish the perpetrator) and others that do not.
There are too many people in prison for relatively minor offences, who have been in prison before (again for relatively minor offences) and will return again (the re-offending rate for minor offences is very high). The system is clearly not working. We need to break the cycle of re-offending and should focus more attention on rehabilitation of minor crime offenders who we can stop graduating to more serious offences, which going to prison helps them to do.
It is too easy to say Ken Clarke is being soft on crime or too liberal; perhaps we should focus instead on having a genuine debate about how we tackle repeat offenders before it is too late for them, or for us.