Tom Brake's E-Poll Backs Prison Reform

August 20, 2010 1:48 PM

Tom Brake's award-winning E-poll has shown overwhelming public backing for the Liberal Democrat-Conservative Coalition to introduce prison reforms and make more effective use of community service.

The new Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has argued in favour of reforms to 'shut the revolving door of crime and reoffending.' This would be achieved by giving out more community sentences rather than short term prison sentences, which would also alleviate overcrowding in jails and reduce the cost to the taxpayer.

There was some lively debate, but ultimately the statistics were emphatic: 75% were in favour of reforming the current prison system and believed that community sentences do more to tackle reoffending rates, while 25% believed prison sentences should be given to non-violent offenders to prevent crime, tackle reoffending and protect the public.

Many respondents on both sides of the debate recognised that the current system did not work, as there was an 8% rise in re-offending rates between 2006 and 2008. A minority argued that prison was too soft and needed to be made more punishing in order to deter reoffending. However the vast majority believed that community service was punishing, but also offered offenders an opportunity to do good, be rehabilitated and perform public service tasks that would save the taxpayer money.

Several people offered support for a system which would bring offenders face-to-face with their victims so that they could better understand the impact of their actions. The Coalition aims to introduce Neighbourhood Justice Panels which operate in just such a manner. Pioneered by Liberal Democrats in Chard in Somerset, the panels have been shown to reduce reoffending rates by up to 95%.

Tom said, 'The result was very encouraging and showed the real depth of support for our policies.'

'This is an opportunity to introduce the real and radical reforms required to tackle problems such as prison overcrowding and reoffending which had spiralled out of control under the Labour government.'

The poll was one in a series conducted monthly of Tom's E-group, which offers over 4,000 people an opportunity to voice their opinion on a range of issues. Topics covered in the past have included fox-hunting, ID cards and climate change.

Anyone can sign up to Tom's E-group by emailing with the subject 'Join'.

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