United States would rather punish than cure its convicts

Prison Incarcerationoriginally published by: Post.Gazette.com
2nd July 2010

Other than their egregious history of colonialism, impenetrable regional accents and soccer hooliganism, the British have a well-earned reputation for being very, very civilized. Quite!

This week, British coalition government Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke demonstrated exactly how civilized — and inexplicably rational — a capitalist country can be when confronted with a seemingly intractable social problem like a bloated prison system it can no longer afford.

“More than half of the crime in this country is committed by people who have been through the [criminal justice] system,” Mr. Clarke said on the BBC’s Radio 4. “We must now take action and shut off this revolving door of crime and re-offending.”

Mr. Clarke’s plan to dramatically cut the number of recidivists in the United Kingdom includes paying private companies for successfully rehabilitating chronic offenders and introducing more open sentencing options that target the causes of crime and recidivism.

“There are some nasty people who commit nasty offenses. They must be punished, and communities protected,” Mr. Clarke said. “But just [locking] up more and more people for longer [periods] without actively seeking to change them is what you would expect of Victorian England.”

With that, the justice secretary announced that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has committed itself to a radical change in prison policy in the name of justice and fiscal sanity.

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