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Recidivism in England

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Tom Whitehead reports in the London Telegraph:

The first long term study of its kind shows that 74 per cent of criminals will commit at least one crime within nine years of being released from jail or serving a community sentence, Ministry of Justice figures show.

The figures show the true challenge facing Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, to meet his promise to bring about a "rehabilitation revolution".

Actually, the Ministry's figures don't and can't show how many crimes they commit, but only how many they are caught committing.  The one thing we know for sure is that the number committed is higher than the number caught.

Crispin Blunt, the Justice Minister, said: "Today's statistics show we need a more intelligent approach to sentencing that targets the root causes of crime and reoffending, so making our communities safer and better places to live."

Great name for a Justice Minister, although the term "root causes" is like fingernails on a blackboard to me.  It is a usually a prelude to excuse-making that ignores personal responsibility and tries to blame everything on society.  But wait.

"Reoffending rates among short sentence prisoners remain unacceptably high. We will address this failure in the system by making prisons into places of hard work which prepare offenders more effectively for the outside world."

Hard work!  Finally, an official who understands that work is the prison program we need most.  Too bad he's across the pond.

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Terms like "root causes" and "rehabilitation revolution" are foolhardy and naive.

Rehabilitation can not be coerced. Programs should be available for those who show an interest. Even the highly motivated have an uphill climb as they often lack the discipline and ability to delay gratification needed to stay with a job-training program or start a career from entry-level. For the resolute criminal who thinks a 9-5 job is for "chumps", rehabilitation is a pipe dream.

If there are any root causes, they are likely to be found in child-rearing practices(or lack of same) and not in amorphous concepts like poverty and bigotry.

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