Ruth Mitchell

Community Service: A Tough Enough Deterrent?

The Government yesterday revealed plans to shake-up prison and probation services in England, in a move which will see fewer criminals serving time in jail. Instead, the five-year plan, revealed by Home Secretary Charles Clark, will see an increase in the amount of unpaid work carried out by offenders in the community.In its report, ’‘Protecting the Public and Reducing Re-offending’, the Government said that it expects the number of hours of unpaid work done by offenders to rise from 5 million in 2003 to approaching 10 million in 2011.

‘We hope this will include an important contribution towards the work necessary to prepare for the Olympic games,’ the report added.Community sentences will be introduced in autumn 2006 under a new type of sentence called Custody Plus. This will apply to all sentences of less than one year and will combine a short period in prison with a longer period of supervision in the community. Charles Clark said that the community sentences would serve as a visible representation of justice being done, as well as helping offenders become “productive, valued members of the community.” The plan, however, has drawn criticism from some victims of crime groups who believe that community service represents a soft option which defeatst the purpose of punishment acting as a deterrent.In light of this, today’s Friday Poll asks for your view: do you think that non-dangerous offenders should, where possible, carry out their punishment serving the community through unpaid work or do you think that loss of liberty in prison would serve as a greater punishment and deterrent to future criminal behaviour.

Offenders should work out their punishment in the community Loss of liberty is best punishment

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