Revolving Doors Agency launches a new paper showing the problems with short sentences.
This briefing explains why we believe short prison sentences should be reduced in favour of a smarter approach. The public and the evidence are clear and in agreement that short prison sentences are short-sighted. They are ineffective at tackling petty crime, and we can do better.
Currently 30,000 people each year go to prison on sentences of less than six months – that is half of all people sent to prison. The majority of people serving sentences of less than six months are in prison for non-violent offences. Many of these are linked to underlying problems such as poverty, addiction, homelessness and poor mental health.
Evidence shows that short prison sentences are less effective at reducing reoffending than community sentences. The government should introduce a presumption against the use of short custodial sentences of less than six months.
Community sentences must also be strengthened so that they command public confidence. They need to deal effectively with some of the underlying causes of persistent, petty offending, including drug or alcohol misuse and mental health.
However, there is no value in continuing with the failed policy of short sentences while we wait. As a start, we want to see the least harmful and least serious theft or drug offences dealt with differently.
In March 2018 we launched our campaign that showed short sentences are short-sighted. We asked the government to review this issue and to consider introducing a new presumption against the use of short custodial sentences of less than six months. Since then we have had real impact. The Government has committed to explore options to restrict the use of short custodial sentences.
- Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
- Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE
- His Honour Judge John Samuels QC
- Baroness Jean Corston PC
- The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek
- Sarah Champion MP
- Chris Evans MP
- Kate Green MP
- Ellie Reeves MP
- Ruth Cadbury MP
- Lord Ramsbotham GCB CBE
- Hardyal Dhindsa, Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire
- David Munro, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey
- Howard League for Penal Reform
- Transform Justice
- Women in Prison
- Centre for Justice Innovation
- Russell Webster
- Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive of Commonweal Housing
- Anna Herrmann, Head of Education at Clean Break
- Rob Allen, Co-Director of Justice and Prison
- Worcester Diocesan Criminal Justice Affairs Group
- Pact (Prison Advice and Care Trust)
- Centre for Mental Health
- Mayday Trust
- Clean Break
- Back on Track Manchester
- Centre for Criminal Appeals
- Nelson Trust