Letter: Longer prison sentences are not the answer to crime

Gartree Prison
Gartree Prison

I was sorry to read that our MP, after visiting Gartree Prison, says he is in favour of longer prison sentences.

We already send far too many people to prison in the UK.

We have more people in prison than other country in Western Europe. Why is this?

There are many with drug related problems – they need re-habilitation.

More than 80 per cent of crime is drug-related.

Many prisoners have various mental disorders as a result of their drug abuse and there are many with psychiatric problems – prison does not help them.

The re-offending rate especially among young men is very high so what has been achieved by locking them up?

I suppose while they are inside they are being kept out of mischief, but they will eventually come out, and cause more trouble before they are locked up again.

Surely there must be a better way?

The chaplain of one Young Offenders Centre told me that the vast majority of the people he sees are emotionally and psychologically unbalanced.

They often come from unstable family backgrounds.

These young men will often have experience of homelessness, single parents, and generally poor environment.

They have never learned any social skills, and the way they survive is through aggression and confrontation.

I know that there is some excellent work going on in our Young Offenders Institutions, but much more could be done if society took an interest.

But for most of us I’m afraid it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind”.

Canon Brian Davis, Market Harborough