The huge success of Homo Sapiens as a species derives largely from us being social animals. However any society needs rules in order to function and that implies some sort of sanction when such rules are transgressed.
Primitive societies tend to use physical punishments, beatings, removal of body parts and death. We British did this in the middle ages, many Islamic countries still do it today. As we became more civilised such barbarities became unacceptable so the only available options were to deprive people of their liberty for a period of time, or send them to Australia. This deprivation of liberty was a pragmatic response to the problem that back then there was usually nothing else they could be deprived of, this is not true today.
So lets firstly look at why we put people in prison:
- Crime and punishment (retributive justice). The government exercises its power over us by creating large numbers of unnecessary rules. These rules then need to be enforced with punishment. So large numbers of people end up in prison just to prove the power that the state has over us. For instance in Britain 10% of all criminal prosecutions are for non payment of the BBC license fee. This is utterly ridiculous.
- Revenge. In reality this is the main driver of incarceration in our society, just read the red top newspapers howling for vengeance when they “take offense” at some high profile criminal case.
- Re-education. The idea is that people should be sent to prison to be reformed by learning new skills. The reality is that these skills are then often applied to their criminality. Meanwhile prisons are a hotbed of criminal networking and training. A neophyte criminal when jailed will quickly gain the skills and attitudes of a hardened criminal. A further problem today is that our prisons have become hotbeds of radical Islam, so a moderate Moslem will often be converted into a jihadist.
- Deterrence. Well this just doesn’t work, otherwise our jails would not be so full.
- Preventing recidivism. When my sister lived in Chorley the local police inspector told her that when one particular individual was out of jail the crime figures shot up. He was a prolific criminal. When he was in prison society was safe from his actions. In Britain we are quite soft on such people, in many other countries recidivism is far more strictly punished. HereÂ 47% of adults are reconvicted within one year of release.Â Reoffending by all recent ex-prisoners in 2007-08 cost the economy between Â£9.5 and Â£13 billion.
- Removing dangerous people from society, usually criminal psychopaths such as mass murderers and paedophiles.
All this incarceration is incredibly expensive for society. We pay for it in our taxes. There is something like 90,000 people locked up in England and Wales (this is a doubling of the number imprisoned in the mid ’90s). This costs on average about Â£40,000 per prisoner per year. But the cost to society is far greater because whilst these people are in prison they are no longer tax paying members of the economy.
In Britain we put a very high proportion of people in prison, far more than many other countries. Here is the incarceration rate per 100,000 of the population of a few countries:
- England and Wales 148
- Scotland 146
- Australia 98
- Ireland 89
- Holland 82
- Germany 78
- Sweden 60
- Norway 72
- Iceland 47
- Japan 51
- Finland 58
- LiechtensteinÂ 19
As you can see we are doing it very wrong. Our high incarceration rate doesn’t make us more law abiding. It’s main effect is to cost the taxpayers huge amounts of money and to blight the lives of tens of thousands of people. It is an utter disgrace.
Now it is time to look at who is in prison:
- Innocent people. Our freemason police have a long tradition of fitting up innocent people. High profile cases include the Guilford Four, the Birmingham Six, the Cardiff Five, the M25 three and Stefan Ivan Kiszko. Here is a list of more high profile cases. Obviously there are very many lower profile cases and very many cases that are never discovered.
- Stupid people. Around a quarter of prisoners have an IQ of less than 80. Obviously the police are better at catching stupid criminals than they are clever criminals.
- The mentally ill. This is what the prison reform trust says: “Many prisoners have mental health problems.72%Â of male andÂ 70%Â of female sentenced prisoners suffer from two orÂ more mental health disorders.20%Â of prisoners have four of the five major mental health disorders.10%Â of men andÂ 30%Â of women have had a previous psychiatric admission before they come into prison.Neurotic and personality disorders are particularly prevalent -Â 40%Â of male andÂ 63%Â of female sentenced prisoners have a neurotic disorder, over three times the level in the general population.Â 62%Â of male andÂ 57%Â of female sentenced prisoners have a personality disorder.”
- Foreigners. About 13% of the total prison population.
- Ex servicemen are about 10% of the prison population.
- About 30% of prisoners are from ethnic minorities. Part of this can be attributed to poor adaption to our society, especially the evils of multiculturalism and the wonders of Islam. But black men are 26 times more likely than white men to be stopped and searched by police, black and Asian defendants are more likely to go to jail than white people when convicted of similar crimes and are given longer sentences.
- Drugs. Drug dealers, drug importers, drug growers, possession of drugs and crimes committed to pay for drugs. This could account for between a third and a half of the total prison population.
By now you must be realising that our prison system is a national disgrace. Here are some ways to fix it:
- Treat mental health properly, as a disease. This is far cheaper and more humane than using the prison system.
- Legalise all drugs. The government has no right whatsoever to tell us what we can put in our own bodies. Then treat drug abuse in the medical system, not the prison system. Taxes from drugs would go to the governments and the whole drug infrastructure would be decriminalised.
- Use fines for punishment instead of incarceration, people now have vastly more wealth and possessions than when the prison system was created. Putting people like Rolf Harris, Andy Coulson, Chris Huhne etc in prison is plain stupid, they are no danger to society. They should be hit with big fines instead, hundreds of thousands of pounds if necessary. The fine for ABH should be say Â£5,000, for GBH Â£10,000, for graffiti or vandalism Â£5,000 and so on. Then people pay back into society for their crimes instead of costing society in expensive prisons. Bank accounts and possessions should be seized immediately for non payment. The worst sociopathic recidivists should be reduced to penury. In Holland the 1983 Financial Penalties Act (FPA), stresses the use of fines instead of incarceration. We need the same.
- Reform our police to be non racist and ban them from being freemasons.
- Immediately repatriate foreign criminals. Get them out of the country and don’t let them back. Revoke awarded British citizenships in the worst cases.
- Use far more and a wider range of non custodial sentences. Tagging, community service, suspended sentences etc
- Reintegrate ex-servicemen into our society far more thoroughly. They have been institutionalised and need proper preparation for the real world.
- Use chemical castration for sex criminals. They are often the very worst recidivists.
- Restorative justice. Forcing criminals to undo the wrongs they have perpetrated.
Our immediate aim should be to halve our prison population so it doesn’t compare so badly with that of other civilised countries. Then we should strategically work to halve it again. We would have a far better society if we did this. Our target should be to betterÂ Liechtenstein.
Now here is an idea that would be an immediate fix. Allow existing prisoners to buy their way out of jail. If they pay the state say Â£1,000 per month of their remaining sentence. Obviously this wouldn’t apply to the worst recidivists and sociopaths. By doing this the government would get a huge lump of income and their cost of running the prison system would drop sharply. Remember that in 1939 we released all prisoners withÂ less than three months remaining of their sentence and all Borstal boys who had already done six months.
What a wonderfully informed post this is Bruce.
Why would you assume that people in prison would be working full time and earning tax?
IF the police spend all their time fitting people up (when not slapping each other with raw chicken and wearing cassocks) why are there so few appeals to conviction?
Why would the police be more successful at catching criminals who are able to meticulously plan and execute their crime than ones who leave massive amounts of evidence?
Which government decided to hoof thousands of mentally ill people into the community?
What actually is restorative justice? (You don’t seem to quite grasp the concept)
Why do you advocate fines yet lambast prosecuting people for TV license offences? (mostly dealt with by way of fine NOT imprisonment!)
Clearly Bruce i’m sensing you have a lot of issues and that this blog is as well constructed as your #article on violence.I sense that to you pennies matter, people don’t.
Fines would surely have to be relative to wealth otherwise rich people would essentially have the right to beat the shit out of people knowing they could just keep paying the fine.