Crime & Punishment 1

Why Punishment Isn't Enough...

Offender - iStock_000007572083XSmall Chris Hepburn

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/ChrisHepburn

I’ve heard it a thousand times, “If it was up to me, I’d throw away the key.

Young people who commit crime are a real public nuisance. Few would dispute this. Knowing offenders get punished is somehow satisfying.

Maybe it’s knowing that there really is some justice in the world. Maybe it’s the warm glow of knowing that the kid did something wrong and now they’re getting their comeuppance.

But many believe that we don’t punish enough. We’re “too easy on them.”

Here’s the kinds of things people say:

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MoJ Green Paper Consultation – Transforming Youth Custody…

Green paper

The Ministry of Justice has announced its intention to change the thrust of the secure estate to concentrate much more on education.  It has published a Green Paper, “Transforming Youth Custody”, laying out its plans.  The consultation exercise is seeking views on how best to implement the proposals; it closes on the 30 April 2013. Click the logo above for the paper& consultation document.

© Jonny Matthew 2013

A Gaping HOLE in the WHOLE System Approach…?


As anticipated in my previous post, the make up of the new Criminal Justice Board (CJB) is missing vital ingredients – anyone speaking for offender needs and perspectives.

After well over 20 years of working with young offenders, it’s clear to me that whilst some seem to be “hardened” and resistant to change, many would welcome more help to turn things around, put things right and get on track towards a crime-free life.

Even a cursory read of the various aims and mission statements of the organisations sitting on the CRB would reveal that their aims are exactly the same – to reduce offending, particularly re-offending.  So we’re all agreed: less crime is a good thing.

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New Criminal Justice Board – Inaugural Meeting…


I’ve just received my usual daily update from the MoJ ( a great service, by the way!) and read the news of the inaugural meeting of the Criminal Justice Board (CJB).

On reading the aims of the Board, my initial reaction was that, despite the usually tiresome language of government based announcements, the focus of the Board sounded quite noble.  Then I looked again, the Board aims to ensure that the Criminal Justice System (CJS)…

  • reduces crime
  • reduces re-offending
  • punishes offenders
  • protects the public
  • makes reparation
  • improves public confidence and
  • ensures that the system is fair and just

As I said, all very noble – at least on the face of it. No mention of meeting the needs of offenders though.  No concern for mediating previous injustices, or ensuring proportionality in sentencing, or promoting the development of increasingly safe custodial settings, or redressing the fact that disproportionately higher numbers of poor people, black people and those with mental health problems find themselves in custody… I could go on.

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Prison Reform Trust – “Fatally Flawed”…

200 deaths of children and young people in custody in 10 years – new PRT report, “Fatally Flawed“, calls for urgent action…

© Jonny Matthew 2013