Friday, 15 October 2010

Gaol works?

Obviously Gaol works in so far as an offender is off the streets for the duration of the sentence. That is why dramatically increasing incarceration drops crime rates in the short term. This is the approach the US takes and we are heading to. Incarcerating about a third of the cohort from problem groups (white trash and black inner-city boys) during their peak offending years 17-28 keeps that cohort off the streets. It works, but at enormous cost to the individuals AND to the state, who has to spend £40,000 a year keeping them inside. Prison works, but it's not ideal, and it would be far better to address the underlying social problems which lead to crime.

Jim Brown's On Probation Blog is worth reading to leaven the Daily Mail-tastic tone of much of the Blogosphere's crime reportage.

I cannot overstate the dramatic effect a girlfriend can sometimes have on a young man's offending pattern. She often replaces the control previously exercised by mum and says 'you're not going out'
I wonder how much of our feral underclass' bad behaviour is made worse by the disgusting, perverse incentives in the welfare state which force couples to live apart or lose benefits especially in the event one or other of them get a job? Until this changes, we will continue to bear the burden of an incarceration rate approaching that of the USA.

Iain Duncan Smith's reforms may cost £3bn to pay more in-work benefits to the low-paid, whilst cutting out of work benefits to the feckless, but how much will they save?


Lord T said...

We could actually put themin jail for what are actually crimes against persons and not just having an ounce of weed. That would be a good start and then we could reduce the costs of keeping them in jail.

For example. 4 walls per cell. One prisoner chained to each wall. Fed as necessary by their families.

Anonymous said...

I also have to question the 40k figure, oh i believe it, i just don't see why it has to cost so much.

Andrew Zalotocky said...

"our feral underclass" - I suggest that we should think in terms of a natural underclass and an artificial underclass.

The natural underclass is the small minority of people who are so feckless, self-destructive or workshy that they would end up at the bottom of any society. They can be born into any social class but their trajectory is always downwards. The only difference between the ones born into privilege and the ones born on a sink estate is that the former may well die of old age before they run out of money. Their circumstances will protect them from their character flaws.

The artificial underclass is the people who could have been decent, productive citizens if they hadn't been trained to fail. They came from a poor background and attended third-rate state schools where they were taught that aspiration wasn't for the likes of them. They graduated into a welfare system that rewarded dependency and punished any attempt to get into work. Eventually they gave up. Their children never knew any other way of life, and their grandchildren never knew anybody who had known any other way of life.

The "feral underclass" is largely a creation of the socialist welfare state. A system that was meant to combat Beveridge's five "Giant Evils" has become a system for increasing them.

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