Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

No Winners: The Reality of Short Term Prison Sentences

Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

No Winners: The Reality of Short Term Prison Sentences

Article excerpt

The Howard League for Penal Reform, jointly with the Prison Governors' Association (PGA), have published a piece of research about the experience of short-term prison sentences. The research was led by Julie Trebilcock from Imperial College London and draws on interviews with 44 prisoners and 25 prison staff from three adult male prisons. This work was supported by a survey of PGA members and other stakeholders.

The key points to emerge from this piece of work are:

* Whilst the prisoners in the research sample were a diverse group, two main subgroups could be identified: those serving their first sentence (first-timers) and those who had been through the system a number of times (revolving door prisoners).

* Short prison sentences were preferred to community orders by a number of revolving door prisoners. This was on the basis that short prison sentences are easier to complete and make fewer demands. Some of these prisoners experienced a better quality of life in prison than in the community.

* Serving a number of short prison sentences leaves prisoners feeling that a future return to prison is inevitable and outside their control.

* The reality of serving a short prison sentence is boring and demotivating.

* Some prisoners were motivated to undertake rehabilitative work but programmes were often not available. …

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