Matthew Dancona

We need more prisons

We need more prisons
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The review on penal policy by Lord Carter of Coles is unbelievably depressing, giving, as it does, further respectability to the idea that sentencing should be driven by the supply of prison places rather than the demand created by the courts and successful prosecutions. This orthodoxy within the criminal justice system has twin roots in the liberal social science which has infected Home Office thinking since Roy Jenkins and Reggie Maudling and the pressure from the Treasury to keep down the costs of the prison system. Governments, on the whole, want to be remembered for building hospitals not prisons. But the simple, bleak but unavoidable truth is that we need more jail capacity in this country – and fast. John Reid grasped this fully when he was Home Secretary, but I am not sure Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary who will respond to the report, is as sound on the matter. This Sunday Telegraph column I wrote last year sets out the depressing background