Author Archives: Dan Roper

Opinion: The future of Indeterminate Sentences – and why liberals should support them

The number of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences has rocketed since the 2003 Criminal Justice Act introduced the IPP (Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection). Within four years of its introduction, over 5,000 such sentences had been passed despite original government projections of just a few hundred.

To the horror of many liberals less than 2% of such prisoners have ever acheived parole and hardly any gained release at expiry of their sentence tariff. Most MPs will be familar with cases of constituents where IPP prisoners have served well in excess of their tariff and yet appear to have little prospect of release.

As a result many liberals will applaud the government announcement this week that the IPP sentence is to be replaced by a regime of Determinate Sentences and a “two strike” automatic life sentence reserved for the most serious offences.

At first sight this appears to be a victory for justice and a step towards reducing prison numbers. But the reality is less straightforward, and although the IPP has flaws these can be reformed — and if the sentence is made fit for purpose it has many advantages over the proposed reforms.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 7 Comments

Opinion: Green Paper on Crime – “Breaking the Cycle”

The government published the Green Paper on reforming the Criminal Justice System “Breaking the Cycle” in November with most news coverage centring on proposals for “payment by results” and putting physical work apparently at the centre of prison life. However, behind the headlines this is in many ways the most thoughtful government document on crime in years, a clear move away from “Prison Works” and a return to increased professional discretion as opposed to Whitehall dictats.

The paper is not without its problems. The headline of prisoners working a forty hour week is totally unrealistic given current prison structures, issues …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: A liberal approach to the Jon Venables case and rehabilitation

The Jon Venables case – one of the two children convicted in 1993 of the murder of James Bulger – raises challenges both to liberals and for liberals.

This is apparently a high profile repudiation of rehabilitation, particularly given enhanced levels of resources dedicated to supporting and apparently “curing” this individual. A second challenge for the liberal is how to respond to the baying sections of the press and public demonising a single offender.

The natural liberal reaction is to reject the “demands of the mob” as the way offenders are treated carries multiple messages about the values of …

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments
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