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The effectiveness of Custodial and non-custodial Sentencing

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Mia Anderson

on 19 April 2016

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Transcript of The effectiveness of Custodial and non-custodial Sentencing

The effectiveness of Custodial and non-custodial Sentencing at dealing with crime
Hypothesis: Non-custodial sentences are more effective in dealing with crime.


- How effective are custodial sentences in dealing with crime in the UK/wider world?
- A detailed examination of the effectiveness of non-custodial sentencing in dealing with crime.
- Examine the effectiveness of custodial and non-custodial sentences in other countries.
Research Methods
Primary Sources:
Difficulty finding academics/experts willing and available to participate
Conducted two structured interviews via e-mail: one with a member of staff at the family unit at HMP Edinburgh, another with an offender serving a community service order.
-This made it possible to compare "expert" opinions on the effectiveness of custodial and non-custodial sentences.
E-mail and structured interview setting meant impersonal interview and no opportunity for follow up questions/flexibility.
Meant answers were thought-through and detailed and impersonal e-mail set-up might have meant participants were more likely to give honest answers/felt less self-conscious.

Secondary Sources:
Statistical sources: great for comparing crime and recidivism rates internationally.. Can be influenced to suit an agenda and can be un-reliable for some crimes as can be un-reported.
Newspaper Articles: provided wide range of political views, good way to find more sources/paths to explore.
Books & Academic journals: Well-researched, in-depth perspective, insight into criminology/sociology theories. Can be difficult to decipher due to complicated and technical language, long and difficult to navigate.

How effective are custodial sentences in dealing with crime in the UK/wider world?
50% of 11-17 year olds in Youth Offending Services have been victims of abuse violence, crime or other traumatic experiences (Middlesex University)

45% of adults re-convicted within 1 year of release from prison in the UK

"The National Grid Offender Training and employment programme"- re-offence rate of just 6%

Lord Ashcroft online poll of over 2000 participants "Crime, Punishment and the people": 6/10 interviewees agreed rehabilitation was "a soft option that tries to make excuses for offenders rather than punishing them properly and deterring them from committing further crime"

Halden prison in Norway- no bars on windows, prisoners provided with cooking equipment, vocational programmes etc

Maximum sentence in Norway- 21 years and 20% recidivism rate.

USA- 76.6% offenders re-arrested within 5 years of release. Capital punishment legal in over 1/2 states. 1991-2014 murder rate in non-death penalty states consistently lower than in those with the death penalty. 77% of death row defendants since 1977 executed for killing white victims, but African Americans make up approx. 1/2 homicide victims. For every 9 people executed, 1 has been identified as innocent.

In 2014, almost 50% of Brits supported the re-introduction of the death penalty for some crimes.

52% of prison receptions in 2014 were for non-violent crimes.

73,000 people remanded in custody in England and Wales in 2015 and around 50% should never have been in prison: 35,000 were either found innocent or given non-custodial sentences.
Detailed examination of the effectiveness of non-custodial sentences in dealing with crime
Non-custodial sentences examples: Fines, Electronic Tagging, Community Payback, Mediation, Boot Camps, Probation Orders, Conditional and Absolute Discharge
Examine the effectiveness of custodial and non-custodial sentencing in other countries.
Malawi:
Maula prison in Malawi's capital Lilongwe holds over 3x the number of inmates it was built for.
Chichiri prison has 2 showers for two thousand men.
For offenders who completed community service orders, the rate of re-offence fell to 0.25% and the govt. saved $227,717 by using community service in place of prison.
Only 22 state-funded lawyers in the whole country.
In Chichiri prison a homicide remandee will spend around 3 years in prison before they are put on trial.
2015 24 teachers were hired to teach in prisons across the country and more education initiatives for prisons are due to follow.
Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance who run the "Malawi Bail Project" aim to educate offenders on their legal rights.

Conclusion
Both non-custodial and custodial sentences have inherent flaws.

Rehabilitative approaches to sentencing appear much more effective than those focused on punishment.

A fair and just system is essential to effective sentencing, not just low crime/recidivism rates.
Mediation: Sari Stacey, a victim of house robbery met the offender who broke into her home, through mediation. In an interview with the BBC she said: "I just let it all out, and as I was doing it I watched him, and the face came up and instead of looking at the floor, he actually looked at me and he kept looking at me and shaking his head and saying "I'm so sorry"

35% of adults given community sentences in England and Wales shown to re-offend within 1 year of release vs. 58% re-offence rate within 1 year of release for those serving sentences of less than 12 months in prison.

Spain: "work for the benefit of the community orders" imposed upon 45.7% of individuals sentenced. Academic studies in Catalonia showed a re-conviction rate of just 16.1% after a follow up of 4.5 and 5.5 years for offenders serving WBCOs, compared to 37.9% for offenders serving prison sentences.
Saudi Arabia:
On average, 1 person is executed every 2 days, often by beheading.
Almost 1/2 of executions in recent years have been for non-lethal crimes.
Juveniles and those with mental-health disabilities are known to have been executed.
Full transcript