Wednesday, 24 October 2012

In the throe's of editing some material for ex. in one breath David Cameron is saying we need to rehabilitate all prisoners in another he is saying prisoner do not have the right to vote UK government are scared to sign up to EU we should all stick together and get petition up and running to sign up to EU.
By end of this week we will be putting paper clipping up to see how confused the goverment are.

Click the link to watch short video
http://bcove.me/ct5gwi5a

David Cameron: We must make prisons work for offenders

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David Cameron: "Just being tough isn't a successful strategy in itself"

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There is no alternative to making "prisons work", David Cameron has said, insisting criminals can be punished and rehabilitated at the same time.
In a speech in London, he said the debate on crime and punishment had become too "black or white".
Serious offenders must be imprisoned, but jails must have a "positive impact" on inmates, he argued.
The PM has had a difficult few days, with Andrew Mitchell quitting as chief whip and confusion over energy policy.
In a long-planned speech to the Centre for Social Justice, Mr Cameron sought to regain the initiative by insisting crime was an issue that "matters to all of us" and rejected characterisations of his views from both the left and right of the political spectrum.
'Hoodie history' He referred to comments he made while opposition leader in 2005, following which he was accused of wanting to "hug a hoodie".
Mr Cameron said: "For many people, I am associated with those three words, two of which begin with 'h' and one of which is hoodie... even though I never actually said it.

Start Quote

With the crime debate, people seem to want it black or white, 'lock 'em up or let 'em out, blame the criminal or blame society, 'be tough' or 'act soft”
End Quote David Cameron
"For others, I am the politician who has argued for tough punishment. So do I take a tough line on crime or a touchy-feely one?
"In no other debate do the issues get polarised like this... with the crime debate, people seem to want it black or white, 'lock 'em up' or 'let 'em out', blame the criminal or blame society, 'be tough' or 'act soft'."
Personal responsibility was at the heart of the criminal justice system, he stressed, meaning long prison sentences were the only "thinkable" punishment for certain serious offenders.
"This is what victims and society deserve... And the society bit matters. Retribution is not a dirty word; it is important to society that revulsion against crime is properly recognised, and acted on by the state on our behalf," he argued.
But echoing comments made by Tony Blair in the 1990s, Mr Cameron said the government must "think hard about dealing with the causes of crime" not just the results of crime.
This, he stressed, meant more emphasis on crime prevention and, at a time when budgets were being cut and prison numbers stretched, priority being given to reducing re-offending.
Critics have warned that Ken Clarke's replacement by Chris Grayling as justice secretary last month signalled a hardening of the approach on sentencing, but the prime minister said he was still as committed to a "rehabilitation revolution" for prisoners.
Rehabilitation revolution Private firms and charities must be given an expanded role to work with all prisoners, not just those in prison for a year or more, he said, while the model of payments by results for such firms had to be accelerated.
"I say let's use that time we have got these people inside to have a proper positive impact on them... it is not a case of 'prison works' or 'prison does not work' - we need to make prison work better.
"And once people are on the outside, let's stick with them, and give then proper support."
Mr Grayling told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have to do this differently. We have got people coming back out onto the streets after prison who are as likely to reoffend again as not to reoffend.
"The benefit of a payment-by-results system is it forces the organisations working with you to look for what really does work because they don't get paid unless they do."
Plans were announced on Sunday to introduce a new offence of possessing firearms with an intention to supply them to others, carrying a maximum life sentence, designed to target "middle men" who import and traffic weapons for gangs.
Labour said the coalition had cut police numbers and budgets, circumscribed judges and "let victims down".
"If the government's going to make a serious announcement this week he (David Cameron) should explain why he's done nothing for the last 29 months and he's got to explain how these policies are going to be paid for," said shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan.
Rhodri Davies, policy manager of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: "The prime minister is right that payment-by-results contracts have potential to help charities use their expertise to tackle intractable social problems such as reoffending.
"But ministers need to improve the way these contracts are designed so charities are not simply squeezed out in favour of large private sector providers."

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Wednesday 23 May 2012UK

UK must allow prisoners to vote, European court rules

Britain must give prisoners voting rights but the UK can limit that right to certain types of prisoners, the European Court of Human Rights rules in a decision causing fury among MPs.
 
Britain has refused to let any prisoner vote for 142 years and the ECHR decision means the UK must lift its blanket ban and have a bill in place by November to allow prisoners to participate in elections.
"The public will be demanding that the Prime Minister now stands up for British interests and refuses to give convicted prisoners the right to vote," Conservate backbencher Priti Patel said.
Britain doesn't have to let every prisoner vote, however. The Strasbourg judges accepted that UK politicians - who have refused to follow the ECHR orders on voting rights for seven years - have wide discretion to decide which type of prisoner can vote or whether a judge should decide in individual cases.
"The judgement does not require that all prisoners be given the vote and the ECHR has never made that suggestion," said Ian Loveland, a professor of law at City University London. "It is quite likely that a very modest change to the law would ensure that the UK is not in breach of its international law obligations."
Cameron: One prisoner is one too many
The problem with UK law is that it disenfranchises all prisoners, so a mass-murderer serving life and a first-time shoplifter are treated the same, said Mr Loveland.
Still, Prime Minister David Cameron has already told MPs that the thought of allowing even one prisoner to vote is distasteful: "It makes me physically ill to even contemplate having to give the vote to anyone who is in prison."
The ECHR ruling on Tuesday - in a case called Scoppola v Italy - upholds a ruling in which judges decided in favour of convicted British killer John Hirst, who sued Britain and won in 2005 after claiming his human rights were breached. Hirst celebrated by posting a YouTube video of himself singing "I shot the sheriff", drinking champagne and smoking what he described as a "joint" supplied by the local drug dealer.
Blanket ban unlawful
Tuesday's decision is certain to reignite Britain's debate over its right to control its own sovereignty. The fury reached new heights in February when ECHR judges decided UK terrorist suspect Abu Qatada should be released on bail and held under house arrest - at a cost of millions to UK taxpayers - rather than deported to Jordan because his human rights might be breached. (The extremist cleric's second bail application will be heard 28 May.)
The UK's blanket ban on voting by convicted prisoners was supported in a free vote in the House of Commons by 234 votes to 22 and, in his ECHR submission, Mr Grieve called on judges to return powers to politicians over "the culture of their own particular state".
"Many members of the public as well as MPs are opposed both to prisoners being allowed to vote and to 'interference' by the Strasbourg's court in domestic matters," said Susan Easton, a barrister and senior tutor at Brunel University Law School.
"However, defenders of prisoners' voting rights would argue that there are no security risks involved," Ms Easton said. "Voting rights are fundamental rights rather than privileges to be earned, and treating prisoners as citizens may be an important element in their rehabilitation."

Why shunning former prisoners drives them back to crime

On the day the prime minister insists that "prison must work", Channel 4 News producer Matthew Moore asks a recently released life-term prisoner about re offending and adjusting to society.

In many respects Ben Gunn is a success story of the prison system. He committed a crime. He went to prison. He was educated while in prison. He is no longer a danger to society. He has no intention of re-offending. And he is now in part-time employment.
In 1980, at the age of 14, Ben killed his friend after an argument. He handed himself in to the police and pleaded guilty and a judge sentenced him to life in prison. The prison population then was 37,000. It's now 87,000 and growing.
Prison moulded Gunn into a campaigner for penal reform, at first writing in the prison magazine before taking his writing to a wider and bigger audience through his blog. Some months he gets up to 25,000 hits on his website.
In August, after serving 32 years, he left prison. The transition for Gunn has not been easy.

Family support

On Sunday it was reported that the government may cut the prisoner release grant. A small sum of money given to prisoners upon release.
"Officially, £46 is all I've had to rely on in two months. Without family I would have starved to death. Literally."
Mr Gunn has been signed on for weeks but has still not received any benefits.
"There are a lot of people who come out who will have far fewer friends and family around than when they went in. You don't know where your next meal will come from. It's an invitation to re offend."
"I have no form of ID, I can't get a national insurance card. If I was a burglar I would be eyeing up windows."
He was welcomed home by a brother, with whom he's restored his relationship, and his partner, whom he met whilst inside. Without them, he says, he would be struggling.

Hostile world

He published a blog post recently about his first job interview. It was for a policy role at the Howard League, one of the prison system's reform groups. Getting a job during a recession is hard enough without having a murder conviction.
To illustrate just how rarely interviews come along, he describes asking the interviewer, pointedly, if his interview was just a courtesy.
"Given the opportunity to ask a question of my own, I had the temerity to ask: 'Are you giving me an interview just to get me off your backs, or is this a genuine opportunity?' That was, I thought, a ballsy move if not a daft one!"
He was assured they were serious about him. And though they didn't offer him that job, he has just recently signed up to be a consultant policy adviser for them.
"Any prisoner, with the best will in the world, can want to change - but then he walks out into a world that's hostile to him," he says.
Recidivism rates vary from 25 per cent to 75 per cent across the prison estate. A huge range that is natural given the factors involved: age, socio-economic background, nature of crime, the prison and the length of the punishment.
But Mr Gunn said that apart from ineffective rehabilitation programmes, culturally there is an ingrained sense that convicts should be punished eternally.

Re offending rates

That, he says, is counter-productive. By shunning convicts you drive them to crime.
"How is any prisoner supposed to find his way back in [to society]? It constantly rejects us. In that respect we get the re offending rate that society deserves. It's partly self-inflicted."
In addition, the provision of assistance for those who re-enter society after many years locked away is inadequate.
"I'm stuck in a loop," Gunn went on, "where I can't get an ID because I don't have the right ID to get a driving licence. It's absurd.
"No-one is in any rush to join the dots. These things will work out for me. But for other people in less favourable circumstances, it's a terrible prospect. "
Ben Gunn enjoying his first cooked breakfast after his release

Nowhere to go

And there are thousands who leave British prisons each year who face that prospect. There are those who have nowhere to go when they leave.
"If you're homeless on release, you get a grant of £96 which is to last you four weeks until your benefits kick in," said Mr Gunn.
Of those who leave prison each year, 30 per cent report to be homeless. And recent figures show that they are almost twice as likely to re offend than those who are not. Almost all of them will re-offend within one year of being released.
Mr Gunn does not claim to have spent his time inside embroidering a rehabilitation programme that would kill recidivism rates dead, but he has one proposal that would obviously reduce prison numbers.
"The biggest change that could be made is to save imprisonment for those that are truly causing significant harm. As it is, most prisoners are not in for crimes of violence or sexual crimes. The majority of prisoners are people who commit crimes against property or drug addicts – non violent crime.
"Prison as a response to these crimes isn't right. The damage that imprisonment does is greater than the damage of the original crime. He is stripped of all his social capital, his job. From an economic point of view, society is writing off 30 to 40 years of taxes if you render him unemployed."

Potential for corruption

David Cameron championed the role of private enterprise in his "prison reform revolution", offering "more choice, more competition, more openness" and inviting charities and companies to "come and help us rehabilitate our prisoners".
Yet Mr Gunn, who has served time in both public and private prisons, describes a noticeable difference in the two.
"In public prisons, even though staff may join up because they want the pension there is a public service ethos that exists."
In private prisons, he says of the staff, "there is less between them and us". Human attachments are formed and the potential for corruption is much greater.
"In private prison you're taking people from supermarket check-outs. You put them through a couple of months of training and bring them into a prison. They have no historical background in prisons."

Cherry-picking

As for payment by results schemes, the pilots have produced promising results but prison reform groups such as the Howard League has raised concerns with the strategy way back in 2011.
The organisation's assistant director of public affairs and policy Andrew Neilson asked what exactly is a "result"? How can you avoid private companies simply reaping the rewards of others hard work?
"We fear that payment by results will lead to cherry-picking by providers, as the inevitable focus will be on those individuals who are most likely to deliver a result," said Mr Neilson.
The pilot in Peterborough calculated re offending within one year rather than the traditional two years used by statistics in the criminal justice system.
Re offending rates measure re-convictions, which is why two years is allowed to allow a reasonable length time for trials. So the successful payment by results pilot in Peterborough may not have been a fair comparison.

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  • News

    Nearly two-thirds of prisons 'overcrowded

Prisoners' right to vote behind bars 'should be restricted', say ministers

Ministers and think-tanks push for strict limits on concessions to the European ruling that prisoners should be allowed to vote, suggesting that it should only apply to convicts serving short sentences.


In an attempt to limit the political fallout, there is likely to be a push to implement a threshold that would see those serving sentences longer than four years being excluded from voting Photo: ALAMY

Serious offenders such as murderers should continue to be banned from voting, Civitas, the think-tank, said.
David Green, director of the group, suggested: "The Government should make only the smallest possible concession – perhaps by giving the vote to prisoners sentenced to six months or less. The ban should remain for all the others."
It came after The Daily Telegraph disclosed that prisoners will be given the vote in general elections for the first time in 140 years after David Cameron conceded there was nothing he could do to halt a European court ruling demanding the change.
Ministers are understood to be seeking to restrict the number of prisoners that will be allowed to take part in ballots.
They will push for strict conditions, including a ban on "lifers" and murderers from voting.

In an attempt to limit the political fallout, there is likely to be a push to implement a threshold that would see those serving sentences longer than four years being excluded from voting.
It is believed that judges may be given responsibility for eventually deciding which criminals are allowed to vote when they are sentenced.
However, prison reform groups welcome the the proposed law change.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "A historic decision to enfranchise serving prisoners would mark the end of the archaic punishment of civic death dating back to the Forfeiture Act of 1870," she said.
"In a modern prison system you would expect prisoners to have rights and responsibilities and politicians to take an active interest in their constituency prisons.
Jon Collins, campaign director for the Criminal Justice Alliance which represents almost 50 organisations, said the decision was "long overdue".
"The UK's ban on prisoners voting serves no useful purpose, while damaging efforts to rehabilitate prisoners and reduce reoffending.
"Voting is a right, not a privilege, and the Government is doing the right thing by acting now to overturn this outdated and illegal ban."
Former justice secretary Lord Falconer said he disagreed with the European Court of Human Rights ruling but accepted that the Government had to comply with it.
He said countries should be able to say that convicted prisoners cannot vote.
"But in relation to the blanket ban right across convicted prisoners, the European Court of Human Rights said that's not in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"I disagree with that conclusion but it's what their view is and we have ultimately got to comply with it."
John Hirst, a convicted kilelr, who took the case to the European Court of Human Rights, said: "The whole thing about this is that in this system where you've got a democracy, that people can put pressure and lobby in Parliament for changes in the law and improved conditions, but you can't do that if you haven't got the vote.
"All prisoners can do is riot, if they've got a complaint, so you've got to give them this legitimate channel to bring their issue in."
For months, the Government’s lawyers have tried to find a way to avoid allowing 70,000 British inmates the right to take part in ballots.
But on Wednesday a representative for the Coalition will tell the Court of Appeal that the law will be changed following legal advice that the taxpayer could have to pay tens of millions of pounds in compensation.
The decision, which brings to an end six years of government attempts to avoid the issue, opens the possibility that even those facing life sentences for very serious crimes could in future shape Britain’s elections.
Senior government sources said Mr Cameron was “exasperated” and “furious” at having to agree to votes for prisoners, but the threat of costly litigation had forced his hand.
He was told that the Government faced a series of compensation claims from prisoners and potential legal action from the European Union if it did not agree to a change.
“This is the last thing we wanted to do, but we have looked at this from every conceivable angle and had lawyers poring over the issue,” a senior government source said.
“But there is no way out and if we continued to delay then it could start costing the taxpayers hundreds of millions in litigation.”
The Prime Minister is likely to face criticism from some in his own party for allowing Europe to dictate the law on such a sensitive issue. Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, has previously said it would be “ludicrous” to give inmates the right to vote.
Critics of the move have long argued that those who are guilty of preying on society should lose one of the most basic rights of a citizen.
But the decision will please the Liberal Democrats, who have campaigned for the law to be changed.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, is understood to have taken a personal interest in examining how the system could be altered.
Laws prohibiting the right of prisoners to vote were formalised in the 14th century, when the concept of “civic death” was established.
After the 1867 Reform Act gave working men the right to vote, the Forfeiture Act established the practice that those who were guilty of felonies could not vote.
In 2004, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the blanket ban imposed by Britain on its prisoners’ right to vote was discriminatory following a legal challenge by John Hirst, who was jailed for killing his landlady with an axe.
The Strasbourg-based court said each country could decide which offences should carry restrictions on voting rights. Most other European nations allow some prisoners to take part in elections. But despite two separate public consultations, Jack Straw, Labour’s justice secretary, failed to implement any changes.
Legal experts have suggested that the bill for compensation could rise to more than £50 million if prisoners are not given the vote. In May Lord Pannick, a cross-bencher, said there were 70,000 prisoners who could sue, with each in line for damages “in the region of £750”.
Earlier this year the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe warned the Government that its failure to act could lead to a string of compensation claims.
It raised the prospect that Britain could be the first country to fall foul of new powers which came into effect earlier this month. Potential sanctions include suspension or expulsion from the Council of Europe — a separate body from the EU.
Last year, Peter Chester, who raped and murdered his niece, launched a legal challenge claiming his human rights were being breached by the refusal to allow him to vote.
The case was thrown out but Chester’s appeal will be heard tomorrow and that is when the Government will make its statement. Its lawyers will acknowledge that Britain is in breach of the European court’s judgment and a legal amendment is needed.
Further details about the limits ministers want to see in place are likely to follow before Christmas. One proposal would see inmates being given a vote based on their last postal address to prevent an entire prison voting in one constituency.
The Prison Governors Association has warned that the ban hampers inmates’ rehabilitation.
Other groups that cannot vote include peers, the Royal family, the criminally insane and people convicted of election-related corruption.
 
Will get some more news over next few days so all going well Tuesday or Wednesday will have some more news for you.