Wednesday, May 11, 2011
So prison DOES work: Criminals who spend longer behind bars are less likely to reoffend
Prisoners who spend longer behind bars are less likely to return to crime when they are let out, a report revealed last night. Reoffending rates fell sharply when criminals were sentenced to up to four years instead of just one or two, a Ministry of Justice study found.
The report will reignite the row about whether 'prison works'. Defenders of tougher sentences said the study - the first of its kind - showed prison had a powerful 'deterrent effect'.
Dr David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank said: 'This seems to show that for people who merit prison, the longer you keep them there the better. As well as protecting the public while they are there, there is also a deterrent effect on release.
However, the report also provides backing for Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, who has criticised the failure of prisons to rehabilitate inmates jailed for short periods.
The report found the highest reoffending rates were among inmates given sentences of up to 12 months and who do not have access to prison rehabilitation programmes.
Last night Mr Clarke said it was a 'national scandal' that nearly half of all offenders reoffend within a year of release. He said: 'Prisons need to be places of hard work, not idleness, and both prison and non-custodial sentences need to do much more to properly address the serious underlying causes of crime such as drugs and mental illness.'
The report compared offending by 'like for like' criminals jailed for similar offences.
Nearly 60 per cent of those sentenced to less than a year behind bars in 2008 committed another crime within a year of release. That compared to a 51 per cent of those given community service. Criminals handed terms of between one year and two had reoffending rates of 43 per cent. But the likelihood of committing further crimes was seven per cent lower for those handed longer terms of up to four years.
Mr Clarke has promised a 'rehabilitation revolution' aimed at cutting reoffending and he wants to expand the use of community service. But critics have branded him 'soft on crime' and attacked moves to reduce the prison population by 3,000 by 2015.
Blair Gibbs, the head of crime and justice at the Policy Exchange think-tank, said: 'These figures - although only a partial picture - do confirm that the longer the prison sentence the lower the reoffending rate after release.
British employment tribunal jackpots face axe: Plan to limit discrimination at work claims
Excessive payouts in sex, age or race discrimination cases could be reined in under Government plans. Employment minister Ed Davey will today float plans to end the tribunal jackpot system, which can see businesses crippled by penalties running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
And, in a major review of workplace law, he will outline plans to slash the amount of time employers have to consult staff before making them redundant.
But, in a move likely to alarm businesses, the Lib Dem minister will announce that the right to request flexible working and shared parental leave will be brought in by 2015 – much earlier than thought.
Just two months ago, his boss, Business Secretary Vince Cable, indicated that the plan had been shelved. Mr Cable has already announced plans to make it much harder for workers to claim compensation for unfair dismissal in employment tribunals.
Now ministers are to extend the restrictions to claims for workplace discrimination on the basis of employees’ race, sex, disability or sexuality.
Mr Davey will announce plans to reconsider awards that ‘encourage people to take weak, speculative or vexatious cases in the hope of a large payout’. Payouts are presently unlimited. The biggest was £729,347 in a disability discrimination case. For sex discrimination the top award was £442,266, and the most successful race discrimination claimant won £374,922.
Last year saw a 36 per cent increase in claims for age discrimination, 40 per cent up for race, 18 per cent up for discrimination on sexual orientation, and 20 per cent for religion or religious belief.
The average payout for race discrimination is £18,600, £19,500 for sex discrimination, £52,100 for disability discrimination, £4,900 for religious discrimination, £20,400 for sexual orientation discrimination and £10,900 for age discrimination.
Just one mistake by a small company can see them having to make a huge payout – putting their future under threat. The proposals could risk a battle with the unions. But the Coalition argues that disgruntled staff and their lawyers are exploiting the lax rules to make exorbitant claims.
Mr Davey will say: ‘The areas we are reviewing are priorities for employers. We want to make it easier for businesses to take on staff and grow. ‘We will be looking carefully at the arguments for reform. Fairness for individuals will not be compromised – but where we can make legislation easier to understand, improve efficiency and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, we will.’
Plans could include imposing a limit on payouts, or making employees pay a fee before bringing a tribunal claim. The review will also look at reducing the length of consultation over collective redundancy, which currently has to last a minimum of 90 days.
Mr Davey will say this can hinder firms’ ‘ability to restructure effectively and retain a flexible workforce’, leading employers to ‘worry about how long they need to keep paying staff after it has become clear that they need to let them go’.
The review will look at rules which protect employees’ terms and conditions when a business is transferred from one owner to another.
And Mr Davey wants to introduce rules to make work more flexible. His plans to extend the right to request flexible working and introduce shared parental leave would make it easier to work while bringing up a family.
Munro Review: British social workers 'to face random checks'
It's a start
Social workers will face random checks under major Government plans to improve England’s failing child protection system. A review published today will recommend unannounced inspections of social services units in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the Baby P tragedy.
The report by Prof Eileen Munro will also call for swathes of paperwork currently completed by social workers to be axed to give staff more time with families and vulnerable children.
Experienced social workers will also be kept on the front line – instead of being given back office jobs – to take a lead on the most demanding cases and supervise junior staff.
The overhaul comes in a wake of a series of high-profile child deaths in recent years. This includes the killing of Baby P – Peter Connelly – who was tortured to death in Haringey, north London, despite being seen by 28 different social workers, doctors and police officers.
In today’s report, Prof Munro, an expert in social policy at the London School of Economics, will criticise the amount of central bureaucracy in the system, saying staff spend too much time “ticking boxes” rather than working in the community.
Existing guidance that social workers must follow is now 55 times longer than it was in the mid-70s, her report says. “Too often questions are asked if rules and procedures have been met but not whether this has helped children. Everyone in the profession can think of meetings and forms that don’t actually make a child safer,” said Prof Munro.
Her report will call for unannounced inspections of social services units by Ofsted to prevent departments spending weeks preparing for visits. Ofsted will also be stripped of the power to scrutinise official reports into the suspicious deaths of children because its approach is too formulaic.
Greater scrutiny will be made of so-called serious case reviews by making them open to the public for the first time, she will say, although they will also be monitored by a new expert panel.
Her review came as Theresa May, the Home Secretary, confirmed on Monday that the policing body responsible for protecting children is to merge with the new National Crime Agency. But in a key concession, the Government insisted the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency (Ceop) agency would retain its own identity following concerns that child safety could be put at risk.
Jim Gamble, Ceop's previous head, resigned in protest over the planned move last year warning it was not in the "best interest" of vulnerable children.
Concerns were also raised by Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of missing Madeleine McCann, and Sara Payne, the mother of murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah.
Despite the merger, Ceop will now retain its name, operational control and a separate budget and governance structure.
Something Rotten in Denmark (And elsewhere)
Surprisingly, on net, last week was not a good one for the Free World. Despite the signal accomplishment of liquidating Osama bin Laden, Western civilization suffered serious reverses on several fronts.
What these reverses all have in common is a deference to the doctrine our enemies' call "shariah," in a manner they perceive to be acts of "submission." Such behavior is exceedingly dangerous, as it invites our foes to redouble their efforts to make us, in the words of the Koran, "feel subdued."
For instance, consider the aftermath of SEAL Team 6's extraordinary take-down of bin Laden. What ensued was nothing less than a debacle as President Obama's political appointees kept changing their accounts of what had happened. As one wag put it, "Osama bin Laden died and we got 72 versions."
The subtext was of an administration effort desperately trying not to give offense to our adversaries. Yet, they and our friends could only have felt reaffirmed in their already dim view of what passes for American leadership under Mr. Obama.
Then, there was the unctuous effort to dispose of bin Laden's body in strict "conformance to Islamic practice." The fastidious cleansing and wrapping of the body, the 40-minute ceremony and the burial at sea conjure up images of an America treating one of its most psychopathic enemies as a legitimate, even revered figure. Islam scholar Andrew Bostom raises the question whether such rites actually included shariah-conforming denunciations of Christians and Jews? Either way, this exercise was a pathetic act of appeasement.
Next, the President announced that he had decided not to release the dead jihadist's photo. As with the handling of bin Laden's burial, the justification given was concern that the picture's dissemination would only inspire more violence against us and our forces overseas. The truth of the matter is that the more we signal our fear of the violence of shariah-adherent Muslims, the more certain it is to be visited upon us.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday an appeals court in Denmark convicted one of Western civilization's most courageous defenders - Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society. His crime? He gave offense to Muslims. Yes, that's right, a Danish judicial panel effectively enforced shariah blasphemy law. In the process, the court violated one of the most cardinal pillars of freedom: the right to free speech.
If allowed to stand, the ruling in the Hedegaard case will be used to abridge fundamental civil rights throughout Europe, and possibly far beyond. Yet, there has been remarkably little outcry about the defendant's plight - most especially from journalists who have as much to lose as anybody.
In this instance, as in the foregoing ones, the West is acting out of fear, lest our conduct become grounds for fresh violence. This is an enduring legacy of, among other things, the manufactured outrage and mayhem over the Danish cartoons a few years back. It gives ominous new meaning to the expression "Something is rotten in Denmark."
Unfortunately, our own judicial processes seem increasingly susceptible to Islamist intimidation, as well. Recently, counter-terrorism expert Patrick Poole published at Pajamas Media excerpts from an interview with an anonymous source high in the Obama Justice Department. These included an allegation that political appointees in that department had "quashed" a request by prosecutors to pursue individuals and organizations listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the nation's largest terrorism financing trial: United States v. the Holy Land Foundation.
According to Poole's insider, the problem was that the administration stood to be embarrassed if this prosecution went forward. After all, the defendants associated with Muslim Brotherhood fronts like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) would assuredly have tried to use their close ties with government officials and agencies to avoid the convictions and punishments meted out to the first five Holy Land conspirators.
The plot thickened last week. Shortly before Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill, the prosecutor in the Holy Land case, U.S. Attorney Jim Jacks, told the Dallas Morning News that there was no political interference from "the Attorney General or the White House" leading to a decision not to prosecute CAIR. This directly contradicts not only Patrick Poole's source but also House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY), who insisted that both prosecutors and FBI agents involved in the case had told him they had "vehement objections" to the "declination to prosecute" memo that came out of Washington.
Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX), himself a former judge and chief justice in the Texas court system, pointedly challenged the Attorney General during the latter's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Rep. Gohmert noted that it is a matter of record that Mr. Jacks had filed compelling briefs at both the federal district and appellate levels - and was upheld by both courts - in his position that there were sufficient grounds to treat CAIR and others as co-conspirators with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The AG claimed unconvincingly to be unfamiliar with the particulars.
We need to stand up against shariah, not submit to it - at home or abroad. We must demonstrate that we are, to use bin Laden's term, the "stronger horse," by touting our victories and power, and not convey the opposite impression by obscuring or apologizing for them. And we must see the paperwork that precipitated the declination to prosecute CAIR and its Muslim Brotherhood friends - and then get on with putting them out of business.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.