LibLink: Vince Cable – We pay millions to lock up the wrong people

Over at the Mail, Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable looks at four cases brought to his constituency advice surgey, and examines the very human stories behind each “to question the role played by prison in dealing with the individuals concerned.” Here’s the first story:

An elderly lady came to see me about her grandson. Let me call him Mr A. He is serving a sentence for GBH.

He had drug problems and had gone into a pub, got into an argument with a barman and in the fight that followed pulled out a knife, causing injury. As I told his grandmother, prison was what he deserved. But the story didn’t end there.

In prison he had been subjected to male rape, a terrifying experience made all the worse by the incidence of Aids in his prison. He had not reported the assault for fear of retaliation by the assailant’s gang of friends.

He is now ready for release but cannot get on to one of the Government’s courses that prepare prisoners for civilian life. It has created hoops for prisoners to jump through before they are released but then doesn’t provide the hoops because the prisons don’t have the money or staff for rehabilitation courses.

After recounting each of their sad episodes, Vince concludes:

Of these men, only one should have been in prison, Mr A, and he will emerge from the experience seriously damaged and potentially more of a problem for society.

That is the story of our prisons. There are large numbers of people who ought not to be there. As a result, there is no room for serious villains who ought to be there. So they are given sentences that are too short or non-custodial or are released prematurely. The public become angry and urge the building of more prisons. But that isn’t feasible in the current financial climate and doesn’t deal with the people who shouldn’t be in prison.

Too little is being done to help those who genuinely want to go straight and acquire education, mental health treatment or rebuild their lives. Prison won’t work while we pay through the nose to keep the many inside who should be out, instead of catching the real criminals.

You can read Vince’s article in full here.

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This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • You really, really need to re-write that post. In missing out the other three entries and skipping from Mr A. to the end you sound like you are saying Vince Cable is saying that males who gang up to rape other males don’t deserve to be in prison. It could be an ideosyncratic reading, but you don’t emphasise that you’ve missed out three entire other cases nearly enough.

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