Meet the prisoners


9:54 am - July 13th 2009

by Neil Robertson    


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There are 83,000 people currently incarcerated in England & Wales. Of that number, I’d wager all the money in my pockets that not one of them grew up wanting to do this.

Like us, they will have grown up dreaming impossible things; fantasising about future fame or heroics; quietly relishing the adventures of adulthood.

Sure, few of us ever come close to achieving the dreams we had as children, but we can at least modify them: replace ‘Premiership footballer’ with ‘a nice house and a happy family’, or ‘astronaut’ with ‘earning just enough to live in comfort’.

But for many of the people represented in this table, those hopes have long since disappeared: crushed by violence, abuse, broken homes, drugs, alcohol, poor education, mental disorders, homelessness. Of course inmates bear the ultimate responsibility for the crimes they commit, but the experiences & attitudes we encounter on our way to becoming adults are inevitably shaped by others.

For better or worse, we all make each other what we are.

Reading the Prison Reform Trust’s latest Factfile (PDF) this afternoon, this table really stuck out:

So the starting point for a belief in the need for prison reform is that whilst there are some irredeemably cruel, cynical, evil people in our jails, they are also in the minority. The rest may have lead tough lives or made bad choices (sometimes both), been controlled by a drug habit or hampered by a failure to read, write or offer qualifications in a crowded jobs market.

But they are salvageable, and if we replace the tired old dichotomy of ‘tough’ & ’soft’ (because true reform would require aspects of both) with something which simply seeks to provide a pathway out of crime, we’d not only have a much healthier society, but a reduced burden on the organs of the state.

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About the author
Neil Robertson is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He was born in Barnsley in 1984, and through a mixture of good luck and circumstance he ended up passing through Cambridge, Sheffield and Coventry before finally landing in London, where he works in education. His writing often focuses on social policy or international relations, because that's what all the Cool Kids write about. He mostly blogs at: The Bleeding Heart Show.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Crime ,Reform

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Reader comments


1. Richard (the original)

How many of them are in for drugs offences (as opposed to taking drugs but not actually arrested for it)?

I think it’s safe to say that they have all made “bad choices”, is it not?

And whether they are automata (or “controlled” as you put it) or have full moral agency, while they are incarcerated their potential victims (who are also poor – Kensingtonians can look after themselves) are safer than they would otherwise be.

At the same time I would hope they are all salvageable.
Which is not the same as saying that they should not be inside.

The figures for mental disorders brought me up short. Does the Prison Reform Trust say which disorders are accounted for? And how many of those with mental disorders are given any sort of therapeutic treatment?

4. Edwin Moore

well it’s not just prisons. Anyone who’s been in hospital will know that a fair percentage fo the people there are there because of the lives they lead and/or the drugs they take.

I was in the Western Infirmary in Glasgow a few months ago and I guess that 1 in 5 – at weekends 1 in 4 – of the people there, are there because of how they choose (or ‘choose’) to live.

The answer to cj’s question is that yes most of the prison population are salvageable but the process isn’t working – as we all know and are all paying for.

These stats are deeply saddening – but what caught my eye was that, even in the non-prison population, almost one adult in four has literacy and numeracy skills below those reasonably to be expected of an 11-year-old.

F’kin’ ‘ell.

Yes – no wonder businesses want more immigration.
25% of us are f*kin unemployable!

And of the 83000 you won’t find may bankers or sleazy business men who lie and steal and cheat and blackmail. All in the name of business of course so that all right then.

Break in to someone’s house and steal their jewellery and you will get 2 years. Steal someone’s life savings by selling them a piece of shit or steal their pension and you will end up in the House of Lords.

And now, as in everything else we are following the Americans we now have a prison industrial complex to go with the military industrial complex. Private companies whining and dining politicians to persuade them to dream up even more offences the peasants can be sent to prison for. As usual in the corporate state Follow the money.

Good you put this data up here but of little surprise to me or anyone that has worked with young offenders or prisoners.

In spite of what some people still seem to think, poverty and its effects are the cause of crime, not some disgusting take on racist profiling or backward ideas of inherent criminality.

9. Richard (the original)

“In spite of what some people still seem to think, poverty and its effects are the cause of crime”

Why should being poor turn one into a criminal? Do the poor not have moral values? Those who commit crimes choose to do so. We are no longer living in the days when one had to steal food to stay alive. Nowdays people steal (knowing it is wrong) because they are immoral and don’t like the idea of having to work for a living.

Richard, you mis-read me, I’m not blaming poverty, merely pointing out that if you are living in poverty you are far more likely to face the problems that are documented in that list.

With less to lose you are more willing to commit acts of crime and of course there are many people who live in poverty and do not commit crime but poverty is the driving factor.

Indeed, take all the criteria in the list and they all effect dispropotionately those living in on near poverty.

I think this statement by you best reflects the partixan attitdue you are bringing to the subject matter: “Nowdays people steal (knowing it is wrong) because they are immoral and don’t like the idea of having to work for a living.”

Utter nonsense but useful to know how such things infect your world view.

Perhaps if people were in a stable relationship and financially secure before having children , then perhaps the offspring would have a better quality of life. Clinton realised that the three factors which greatly reduced reduced poverty were
Completing high school.
Having children after marriage .
Not marrying until the age of 20.
Plenty of poor people have managed to work their way out of poverty. Perhaps it is time we looked at those who succeeded in working their way out of poverty ad encourage others to follow their methods. Of course the willpower and endurance are required and these qualities cannot be bought of obtained from the Dept of WPP.

Charlie:

You can’t control when people can have kids, you can’t set criteria. As for working out of poverty, yes, more than possible but there is no template, it is not a precise science that has an answer.

For better or worse, we all make each other what we are.

No. We don’t.

If we accept this, we are saying that human beings are nothing more than an amalgam of their genetic make up and their upbringing. We absolve everyone of responsibility for their actions and end up in the kind of communitarian nightmare for which we are currently headed.

In fact, the defining characteristic of human beings is precisely the converse of the above statement. We have the individual capacity to refuse to allow others to make us what we are. Above all else, we are uniquely capable of developing ourselves according to our own intelligence, vitality and moral compass.

The above statistics did not compare the numbers of prisoners who had been subjected to child abuse compared to the non-prison population. But even that would have been a wholly irrelevant statistic because if we accept that “we all make each other what we are” we deny the fundamental characteristics that are at the core of our humanity- individual free will and personal responsibility.

14. Richard (the original)

“Utter nonsense but useful to know how such things infect your world view.”

I freely admit I believe that if people do something they know is wrong then they are acting in an immoral way.

I also freely admit that people steal because they think it’s easier than working. Why else would one steal? OK, you get some odd people who get a thrill out of it but generally it’s a case of “I want X now and I intend to get it”.

Pagar: I agree that the individual’s will is paramount, it is just that if you place an individual in certain circumstances, this plays a heavy influence on that will and will narrow or broaden their options to a degree.

A truism perhaps but one worht noting but I do agree that the individual’s will is what stops all of this being a tedious generalisation and that is the joy of humanity, the viables are huge.

Richard: your statement is too wide to be taking at little more than face value, their is much that is woolly about the idea of people knowing what is wrong and what the definition of wrong is, the word immoral also comes loaded with meaning.

I do have issue with the idea that stealing is easier than working, I can assure you it is not and the penalties for the former are far heavier than the latter and that is aside from any penal penalties.

The feeling of havign nothing to lose is both terrifying and intoxicating but fundementally it is the beginning of losing yourself.

As for why people steal, the key factor is poverty, low-aspirationa and in a lot of youth offending, it has little to do with material goods but a feeling of acceptance.

Seriously, you stumble for huge generalisations to very narrow ideas of human behaviour.

You don’t work with people I presume?

“I freely admit I believe that if people do something they know is wrong then they are acting in an immoral way. ” Yes, but as previously stated, if you have little in your life, you’ve not much to lose if you get caught.
I don’t think It’s poverty per se, but inequality.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirit-Level-Societies-Almost-Always/dp/1846140390

So the starting point for a belief in the need for prison reform is that whilst there are some irredeemably cruel, cynical, evil people in our jails,

This conclusion does not follow from the statistics you cite.

they are also in the minority.

Nor does this one. None of the statistics you cite say anything about whether anyone is cruel or cynical or evil; nor that they are irredeemably so.

18. Shatterface

There are far too many people in prison for non-violent or non-persistent crimes and the prison population could be cut dramatically by decriminalising drugs and moving more towards genuine rehabilitation and appropriate work in the community, BUT this article swings far to far towards a total denial of agency on the part of the offender.

Sociological ’causes’ are contributory factors only, they do not explain or predict the actions of individuals, just statistical variations within populations.

Yes, the criminal justice system disproportionately punishes working class crime rather than white collar crime and the wealthier you are the better lawyer you can afford – but if you burgle your neighbour, you are a cunt even if your mother was an alky and you never knew your father.

There isn’t some clear distinction between ‘victims’ of the system and ‘irredeemably cruel, cynical, evil people’.

19. Richard (the original)

“You don’t work with people I presume?”

Indeed I do, I also regularly help out at advice centres where I work with what one might call “real” people. Despite coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and having difficult lives said people are mostly law abiding and just want to get on in life.

None of the statistics you cite say anything about whether anyone is cruel or cynical or evil; nor that they are irredeemably so.

As it happens, I’m aware of what those statistics do & do not show, and you’re correct that they don’t show how many people are cruel or cynical or evil (which I suspect is unquantifiable anyway). It just looks like I’m using that as evidence because of the way the post’s been edited.

The original thing on my blog was just a case of me posting an interesting table & then writing a bunch of stuff; by the end, I’m not even really talking about those statistics at all, just political framing. I assume that it got fiddled with because the original post would’ve looked a bit crap on LC, which was probably right.

In answer to the OP’s opening sentence, I’d sincerely hope that none of the 83,000 inmates of our jails spent their childhood hoping to be there. Jail is, after all, meant to be a deterrent. It is meant to be somewhere that we do not want to go!

The number of mentally ill inmates is very sad; it indicates a failure to assist genuinely needy people before they fall into serious crime.

As for the others, the correlations with other factors are put into sharp relief by the Prison Reform Trust table. But that tells us nothing about the direction of causality. For example, does a history of school exclusions make you more likely to become a criminal, or do the character traits that cause someone to be excluded from school come out in later life as criminality?

I hoinestly don’t know, and would like to. I doubt that the answer is black or white either way, but my recollection of the schoolchildren of my cohort who were suspended or excluded, and the way that some of them responded to it, would suggest to me that the latter is predominant.

Of course, that would suggest being firmer with the young when they begin to stray, rather then being kinder to those who seem to have some reason to stray.

12. It is abut explaining to people that they can improve the quality of their life. That is why teenage mums are often asked return to schools to explain the strain of bring up children on their own in order to dissuade teenage girls from becoming pregnant.

The reality is that for a few lazy uneducated and unskilled people, undertaking a bit of crime on the side is a useful boost to their welfare income. Often the criminal acts are undertaken on their poor neighbours . The honest poor are further disadvantaged by having their few possessions stolen and their insurance premiums increased; if they could have ever afforded them in the first place.

23. Richard (the original)

“but if you burgle your neighbour, you are a cunt even if your mother was an alky and you never knew your father.”

Exactly, there is no excuse for aggressing against peoples’ lives or property except in self-defence.

“Exactly, there is no excuse for aggressing against peoples’ lives or property except in self-defence.”

But it is too important to ignore contributing factors when trying to develop the best criminal justice system.

You cannot absolve anyone of blame. But once caught, I don’t want someone to reoffend. The above tables are really useful for conceptualising the difficulties of getting people straight.

“Prison Works” is an odd mantra for the right (not accusing you of agreeing with this Richard). Prison hasn’t worked, and unless we address some of the contributory factors then our criminal justice system will get no where.

25. Shatterface

Burglary isn’t just a property crime, it’s a violation of someone’s sense of security. That’s something you won’t get back on insurance, even if your property is covered.

Better still, how about an ounce of pure prevention?

If being in care, for instance, is a risk factor for committing a jailable offence, then wouldn’t it save a lot of tax-payers dollars if we did something about it before they commit crimes? Doesn’t it ring any warning bells that something is rather wrong with “care”?

We could also reduce the prison population if the rates for women of custodial sentences for debt were matched to the rate for men.

To some of the rather authoritarian, punitive, right-wing commenters here: the thing is, acting pragmatically on empirical data showing that punishment is not on the whole effective in improving behaviour is nothing whatsoever to do with taking a view on a person’s agency or responsibility. I’d also add, it’s a bit much to hold someone wholly responsible for something when they weren’t wholly powerful to choose either their circumstances (parenting etc) or their capacity to cope with them.

Faniel – please stop with your “You obviously don’t work with people ” shit. We are all people writing on this message board and as such we obviously work with people – and if we don’t we – we definitly interact with them as some level on this overpopulated island.

Furthermore – your logic is illogical. On one hand you are saying:

“I agree that the individual’s will is paramount, it is just that if you place an individual in certain circumstances, this plays a heavy influence on that will and will narrow or broaden their options to a degree.”

and

“In spite of what some people still seem to think, poverty and its effects are the cause of crime, not some disgusting take on racist profiling or backward ideas of inherent criminality.”

and the other you say:

” You can’t control when people can have kids, you can’t set criteria.”

If poverty causes crime – then we should exert some sort of control over those in poverty bringing more children to suffer the consequences – anything else would be child abuse – No?

Doesn’t everyone love this care in the community mental health service!

Faniel = Daniel – Oops!

Prison works in the straightforward sense that someone in prison cannot offend while inside.
The fall in crime can be directly attributable to the larger numbers in prison.

That is prison’s most important function – incapacitation I believe it’s called.

That prison fails to rehabilitate more effectively is a scandal which needs to be addressed.

But crime has fallen, and it has fallen because more criminals are inside.

So..no-one gets raped or assaulted in prison then, eh, cj?

Richard:

Glad you help out at advice centres but you have no perception of people’s needs or the reality of their situation. Hence why you agree with the cronically thick statement about people being cunts.

Like many people you mistake that we are discussing excuses when in reality it is about understanding the reasons. Very big difference.

Patently:

Agree with your thoughts but slightly alarmed by this: “Of course, that would suggest being firmer with the young when they begin to stray, rather then being kinder to those who seem to have some reason to stray.” I’m not sure how you got to this concept from the reasoned stuff you’d discussed up to that point, discipine is essential but that doesn’t replace love and a feeling of self-worth or value.

Lilliput:

The “You obviously don’t work with people ” shit as you phrase it is more wishful thinking on my part, because if some people actually did here they would be more informed when they opine.

My dad had plenty of feelings about asylum seekers until I got him to volunteer an afternoon with a group I was working with, helped him get the bigger picture.

The bits you quote of me corralate fine, not sure what your point it, aside from that there are many, many factors at play but the fundemetal driver is poverty and the variable is the will of the individual.

You seem to want to make the leap into eugenics and the neutering of the poor under the auspices of stopping child abuse, when education and opportunity is the answer, not social engineering.

“Doesn’t everyone love this care in the community mental health service!”

Not sure what you mean by that but you’re way, way off base with your ‘ideas’.

cjcjc:

Locking everyone up isn’t anywhere near an intelligent enough answer.

32. Mr. Feathers

How many of them were brought up in single-parent families?
How many of them were brought up by parents on benefits?
How many of them were brought up by parents who couldn’t give a fuck about them?

Answer these questions, then tell me why we encourage the production of more such people by gearing the welfare state towards people who choose to have children they can’t provide for, rather than serving its original purpose of helping those who happen to be out of work & need some sustenance while they look for another job.

Yes, I’ll be berated for this but I think I am more humanitarian than those who encourage behaviours without thinking through the outcomes which will result. I share the values of leftists. But I think you have chosen hopelessly wrong methods to bring them about. You don’t want there to be a generation of criminals, but there is one and you’ll have to think about why we have one.

Learn the first lesson life teaches, that not everyone is ithe same as you in terms of motivation and behaviour and it’s wrong to treat them as if they were.

Mr. Feathers:

The trouble is, all this starts to sound dangerously like eugenics and social engineering.

Also, it smacks of blame and bad maths: single-parent familes are to blame for societies (over-played) ills, thus no single-parent families = no ills.

Doesn’t really hold up does it?

And in another thread many of us alos took on the myth that people are being encouraged to be single-parent families, this is just not the case.

“You don’t want there to be a generation of criminals, but there is one and you’ll have to think about why we have one.”

I also feel I should break it to you that civilisation is not crumbling, not by a long short, we are in the best of times rather than the worse, of course, tney could be better times, always improvements to be made but regarding crime, we are not in the Victorian period or the 50s.

“Learn the first lesson life teaches, that not everyone is ithe same as you in terms of motivation and behaviour and it’s wrong to treat them as if they were.”

Again, if you treat people how they are wlays treated, nothing changes, to en-act change in most hard to help people, faith needs to be shown becuase most have no faith or self-worth.

Both rich and poor have it in them to be criminals, but the difference is that the poor do so to survive the rich do it for greed.

35. Mr. Feathers

No, Daniel, I don’t support social engineering. I don’t support eugenics, or sterilisation, or whatever it is that some people support.

If you want to talk about social engineering, let’s talk about the giant programme of social engineering that already exists, with the government dishing out housing and money to those who can’t provide for themselves or their children.

Yes, I’m sure most prisoners do have low self-esteem. But that is because they have been given bad upbringings by people who failed to behave responsibly when they had unprotected sex in the first place and didn’t encourage them to study hard or do anything of any worth. Trying to use taxpayers’ money to “help” is acting after the event.

Locking everyone up isn’t anywhere near an intelligent enough answer.

I didn’t say it was.
But that is why crime has fallen – a good outcome you must agree.

we are not in the Victorian period or the 50s

Crime was rather lower in the 50s !

37. david brough

Sally speaks the truth, in fact criminals are just poor versions of libertarian bloggers and their behaviour is just what Blatcherite politicians have told them to do ever since 1979.

They couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves, all that matters is getting theirs and fuck the law, morality or any kind of obligations to others.

How the fuck does this differ from what banker scum and MP vermin engage in, promoted by “encourage the risk takers”, “celebrate huge salaries” etc, apart from the fact that the latter are paid my money to do it, and cause harm on a wider scale?

There is a reason why crime, welfare dependancy and so on all took off in the 80s. Until we undo Blatcherism and its hateful legacy, we will continue to have these problems. We have got to get decent employment for people who want to make a good honest living. The miners and steel men didn’t sit around claiming benefits, did they?

Mr Feathers, I’m glad you’re not into any of those concepts but you do believe in the following bit of fiction:

“with the government dishing out housing and money to those who can’t provide for themselves or their children.”

This is not happening, as I’ve already pointed out elsewhere single-parent families of both genders number 1.8 million out of some 18 million families in the UK.

Ou rnumber of children per family is shrinking, along with the rest of Europe, we are breeding far less across the board compared only to one or two generations ago the drop off is massive, take those born in the 20s, 30s, 40s, etc and see the plummeting figures.

And if only it was that simple that a certain few criteria mark out someone as a criminal, and as I’ve said elesewhere bad parents don’t just appear in single parent families, and neither are they all some kind of drain on your precious taxpayers funds.

Ignoring the vomitings of Sally and David Brough for a second cjcjc, locking people up is not the answer, as for its impact on crime figures I would say that they have little correlation, it is not as if there are a finite number of ‘bad people’ and once they are all behind bars no more criome occurs, any one can commit crime given the right circumstances.

As for the 50s being safer, I would challenge that, evidence is very limited indeed and if you considered that unreported crime is still estimated in the 90s at around 57% and the idea that this figure grows bigger as you go back further.

I would rather live now than then, life is better.

You cannot possibly argue that there is little correlation.

The head of Reform wrote about this a while ago – I am trying to track down.
The numbers work out very closely.
Additional numbers incapacitated x average number of crimes a prisoner admits having committed over past 12 months = (closely) reduction in annual number of crimes reported.

Prison does work, in this narrow but very important sense.

PS – I would rather live now too, but I don’t believe crime is lower now!

Found it – different think tank but I recalled the argument correctly.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article4353433.ece

He also says crime rate now is 10 x 1950’s.

If true that’s a hell of a lot of under-reporting you must be assuming!

To repeat, when you’ve little to lose prison is of little or no deterrent, to some Young Offenders and Adult prisoners I’ve worked it is their identity and they are not alone.

Prison is a deterrent for those with something to lose, for people to miss them, of fear of that environment.

And as I said, it is not about locking up all the ‘bad people’, if we don’t deal with the root cause of crime: poverty.

We have to agree to disagree on crime levels in previous times, as I said, under reporting is around 57% as of now, it has been argued that it has been as high as 90%. A more accurate figure for the the 00s is just under 50%.

“Ignoring the vomitings of Sally and David Brough ”

What a rather bizarre attitude considering you are essentially agreeing with our position. Namely, as you say “any one can commit crime given the right circumstances.”

Do you view your own positions as ‘vomiting ‘ then?

It’s nothing to do with deterrence.

More criminals incapacitated = fewer crimes committed.
It’s basic maths.

Unless you want to argue that for each addtional prisoner, a new criminal magically appears on the outside.

Where has it been argued that crime was under-reported in the 50’s by 90%??

cjcjc: And as for David Green, I had little time for the loon before you linked that article and for Civitas, he is the one who said Sharia law is everywhere, not a fan by a long way.

Sally: by vomit I mean that your ideas are a bit absolutist and black and white is never appealing to me and Mr. Brough let out his gush of gip ridden with expletives and blame it on some vague political idea.

Just doesn’t seem useful.

46. Richard (the original)

“it is not as if there are a finite number of ‘bad people’ and once they are all behind bars no more criome occurs, any one can commit crime given the right circumstances.”

Most crime in this country is carried out by a hardcore of about 100,000 people (David Fraser – A Land Fit For Criminals).

Regarding crime figures, the Home Office figures (62 million) are a Hell of a lot higher than either the BCS or police figures (Home Office Research Paper 217).

47. Richard (the original)

PS Sally and David Brough (probably the same person) are parodies of the far left.

cjcjc:

Again, we have to disagree, it is about deterrence for me, that is one problem, the other is that capacity for criminality is infinite, we can’t lock everyone up.

“More criminals incapacitated = fewer crimes committed.
It’s basic maths.”

Bad maths, it really isn’t that simple.

“Unless you want to argue that for each addtional prisoner, a new criminal magically appears on the outside.”

No, that would be magic. I don’t believe in magic.

“Where has it been argued that crime was under-reported in the 50’s by 90%??”

The underreporting rate now is around 50%, ten years ago is was higher by about 7% and it has been estimated that is has decreasing over the last 100 years from a point in the late 1800s of around 90% of crime un reported.

I didn’t say it was 90% in the 50s.

Cool.

Richard:

Most doesn’t cut it with me, it is in the gap between most and all that the nub of the argument lies.

I see you’ve taken refuge in ad homimen wrt the civitas guy.

It is not bad maths.
It is simple maths.
Unless a new criminal appears, by magic or otherwise, for each new prisoner, crime will fall.
It may not be precisely proportionate, but it will fall – indeed it has fallen.

On the 50’s issue, what then do you estimate the crime rate to have been versus today, taking account of under-reporting?

“PS Sally and David Brough (probably the same person) are parodies of the far left.” Which only goes to show how little you know.

“More criminals incapacitated = fewer crimes committed.
It’s basic maths.”

No it is not.

Our prisons are overflowing and yet you Tories are always telling us that crime keeps going up. The American prison system has grown by a huge amount and the number of people being sent to prison just keeps growing. No real effect on crime. Despite what the Rudy’s would have you believe.

Sally – though I’m sure you’ll tell me they’re lying – you might want to check out the NYPD website.
NYC crime has collapsed. (If by Rudy you mean Giuliani). Down 77% since 1990 in fact.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_statistics/cscity.pdf

While NYC is exceptional is terms of extent, crime in the US overall has fallen markedly, f=much further than in the UK.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict.htm

But I’m sure you won’t let mere facts get in the way of a foul-mouthed response.

cjcjc:

Refuge? Er, no, rather you have to understand that interrogating the source is part of the deal. You seem to be taking refuge in being a twonk.

And thanks for outlining it even clearer, this exposes how bad the maths are, according to yuor logic crime is sovlable by locking people up: “Unless a new criminal appears, by magic or otherwise, for each new prisoner, crime will fall.”

It is not finite. Please see America for reference for where the locking ’em all up leads to.

“On the 50’s issue, what then do you estimate the crime rate to have been versus today, taking account of under-reporting?”

UK population was about 49 million, 18 offences were reported to the police per 1 thousand people (the 50s averaged about 400 murders year) , so 900,000 reported crimes. If the current rate is 50% and last decade was nearer 60% it would be an educated guess that the underreporting rate in the 50s was around 80% as the pattern indicates that the further we go back, the less people told the police.

That would give us around 720,000 unreported incidences but all this is very rough.

Interestingly, the crime rate has gone up in tandem with an increased prison population with the 50s having more people in prison than the 60s but reported cime was higher, Indeed the 50s were something or a murder peak , you have to go back to the 20s to find more murders per million people and it wasn’t until the 70s that the 50s was pipped.

Although little surpise, it was a difficult economic time.

cjcjc:

The fall in crime figures is also not related to one factor, whether here or in the US.

If only it was as simple as you paint it!

With further reference to America, it is common knowledge that they have the world’s largest prison population, some 2.1 million people, or about 750 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.

If prisons worked in the way cjcjc described then the US would have the lowest crime rate in the world, which is does not, in total crimes per capitia is comes in 8th with 80 per 1,000, the UK with Europe’s largest prison population is 6th with 85 per 1000.

I’m moving to Papua New Guinea where it is 2 per 1,000 people…

I’m not saying it is down to one factor – but incapacitation must play some part.
What caused UK crime to start falling when it did?
What changed – other than rising prison numbers – to explain it?

In NYC it was also policing methods of course. We could do with some of that here too.

To what would you attribute the big fall in US crime?
And why has their experience been different from ours?

@55 – come on, that’s a bit weak.
You are confusing *levels* with *changes*.

What has driven the changes?

cjcjc:

Many, many big questions that I can’t be arsed to answer in the depth required to not come across as glib.

I’m not a massive fan of zero tolerance policing either, it merely shifts problems rather than solving them, or making efforts to solve rather than using the band-aid of prison.

@57: not weak, you’ve been pusing the idea that prisons reduce crime, they do not, otherwise thos eplaces would have lower crime than those that don’t chuck every sod in the nick.

And the changes you speak of are caused by multiple reasons and their are transient, they go up and down, only with lenthy hindsight can we try and trace the multiple threads that lead there.

Those figures have been debunked. The fall in crime is down primarily to demographics, And the economic boom that has been going on since the early Clinton years. Which kind of blows a hole in the wing nut argument that economics have no part to play in crime.

I expect the crime rate to rise over the next few years as the fall out from the banking crises continues. But who will be commiting these crimes if, as you claim , all the criminals have already been locked up.

62. Shatterface

cjcjc, are you happy to pay the vast increase in taxation which would be necessary to keep millions of people locked up indefinitely?

“Pagar: I agree that the individual’s will is paramount, it is just that if you place an individual in certain circumstances, this plays a heavy influence on that will and will narrow or broaden their options to a degree.”

There’s also the fact that we’re talking about a sub-population with alarmingly high rates of learning difficulties and other mental health problems, both of which kind of impair the idea that they’re making fully informed and rational choices.

From the stats above, over 70% of prisoners suffer two or more mental health disorders. I would suggest that any kind of rational choice theory goes out of the window when you’re looking at stats like that.

@58 – actor who can’t be arsed – you shock me!

@59 – so no culturally determined differences between the US and Papua NG then? Again you’re confusing level with change. Though you accidentally raise an interesting point – imprisonment rate per crime, whatever the technical term for that is.

In Europe they may have fewer crims, but they put a higher proportion of them in the nick. Might that be the deterrent? If so, again, we’re not putting enough crims away!

@60 – well that US property crime chart is down from 1975 with hardly a blip

@61 – any link to any debunkings you can provide – or is it all in your head?

Dunc: I agree with you.

cjcjc:

Oh dear.Your mouth is now running off, come back when you’ve calmed down a bit and you’re not throwing around petty insults. Seriously, go figure it out yourself, you’ve been pointed in the right direction by the kind folk here.

“In Europe they may have fewer crims, but they put a higher proportion of them in the nick. Might that be the deterrent? If so, again, we’re not putting enough crims away!”

This is not true.

“@60 – well that US property crime chart is down from 1975 with hardly a blip”

That doesn’t make any sense.

It’s in words like hardly and most that the devil of detail lays…

@66 – US crime has fallen over an extended period of time through several booms and busts.
You may not like it but that is what has happened. You clearly cannot explain it – or cannot be arsed to explain it.

What is not true? That Europe does not have a higher incareration rate per crime?

@65 – I wasn’t the one who said he couldn’t be arsed. All you are saying now is that “the devil is in the detail” and “it’s not that simple” without elaborating.

@62 – yes, though would it be “vast”? An addtional 20,000 places at £50,000 pa = £1bn.
That’s 0.2% of public spending.

Look, the victims of crime are the poor.

I am not poor and can look after myself.
I live in central London in a (sort of) gated community, with private security.
I never venture beyond zone one.

That would be additional tax well spent.
And yes – I would spend an additonal £1bn or more to improve rehabilitation rates.

Incapacitation isn’t the only policy, but it is *one* effective policy.

cjcjc:

This is becoming circular, I engaged with you solely on the matter that prisons solve crime, it has been clearly illustrated that is not the case.

Job done.

While you have wholly failed to engage on the fact that a rise in the prison population has been associated with a fall in crime – a very large fall in the case of the US.

If you wish to misrepresent my position that’s fine.
It simply shows the weakness of your own – which by your own admission you can’t be arsed to defend anyway.

Anyway we’re not going to convince each other.

I’m off to a talk at the excellent Daunt Books – great shop.

“What caused UK crime to start falling when it did?
What changed – other than rising prison numbers – to explain it?”

Don’t know if anyone here has read Freakonomics- it helps shed a bit of light on this.

I am not debunking your crime figures, what has been debunked is your notion that this all down to building more prisons. For example a) demographics, b) abortion, c) new models of policing (community policing, broken windows, etc.), d) end of the crack epidemic.

Most crime is committed by young men between the age of 16 and 28. From the late 1970’s the baby boomers were moving into middle age. Also ,the legalising of abortion in the 1970s meant fewer unwanted children a decade later.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that from 1980 to 1995, the total state and federal prison inmate population had grown by 242 percent, from 329,821 to 1,127,132. This was due in part to public-supported “tough on crime” initiatives, begun about five years ago, which are locking up habitual violent offenders for longer periods of time, often without the possibility of parole or good time. Yet, paradoxically, while U.S. prison populations have skyrocketed with changes in crime-fighting approaches, the national crime rate has remained relatively stable.

Overall, the crime rate in the U.S. was the same in 2004 as in 1969, with the homicide rate being roughly the same as in 1966. Violent crime overall, however, is still at the same level as in 1974.

I’m sure all those things played a part.

Though if you look at the second link posted @52 you will see that according to the BOJS violent crime is at a record low.

Sally, please cite or link when you copy and paste – in this case, Corrections Today, April, 1997 by Mary Dallao.

If it is the case that the majority of crimes are committed by the minority of criminals, then it follows that, all else being equal, locking up those criminals would reduce crime. (that is not to say it is the proper or only course of action, as cjcjc pointed out himself)

Going back to the OP and the first 15 or so comments, the discussion about the causes of crime, free will and whatnot – I think some people miss the point. What the figures show is that a person is more likely to be or become a criminal if he has particular characteristics. Of course poverty in itself does not cause crime, the person causes crime – but a person is more likely to turn to crime if he is poor. It follows that reducing poverty would reduce the crime rate.

The characterisation of all criminals being the same is not helpful. There are some, sure, who steal because it is easier than working. But there are others who steal because they are desperate or addicted to drugs. Jebus, some people commit crime to get back into prison because they think their life on the outside is or will be worse! What is moral about ignoring their particular circumstances?

I don’t think we should entertain any Daily Mail broadbrush prejudices if we want to reduce crime. Broadly speaking there seems to be a two-pronged approach: prevent people from committing crime, by locking them up if necessary; and, reducing the likelihood of people committing crime by reducing those factors that contribute to the crime rate, such as poverty, illiteracy, drug addiction (or giving them free drugs so they don’t have to steal to pay for them) etc.

Of course it is easier said than done.

I knew there was something wrong with that Sally post: too rational.

Now we know why: plagiarised!

And it’s changed a bit since 1997. In fact, if you look at this graph for violent crime, you’ll see how convenient it is to ignore results post 1997.

Forgive me, while Sally’s penultimate sentence in comment 72 was from Corrections Today, her last sentence was from Wikipedia:

Overall, the crime rate in the U.S. was the same in 2004 as in 1969, with the homicide rate being roughly the same as in 1966. Violent crime overall, however, is still at the same level as in 1974.

Cjcjc: is this still going on? As I said above…

“This is becoming circular, I engaged with you solely on the matter that prisons solve crime, it has been clearly illustrated that is not the case.

Job done.”

While you have wholly failed to engage on the fact that the reasons behind increases and decreases in crime are not solely related to prisons.

If you wish to misrepresent my position cjcjc that’s fine too.

Your failure to drop the point says much, but as you believe that prisons stops crime, even when crime is a massive problem in the US and they lock up more than any other nation, even that crime and prison numbers increasing has been going up together, hand in hand in the UK, decade on decade.

Don’t talk to me about weakness when you’re riddled with it.

And it wasn’t a case of not being arsed, I’ve proven my points, being arsed was in relation to your sprawling questions, answer them yourself.

“Now we know why: plagiarised!”

Good God you must be really thick if you did not see I was quoting from an other place.

The give away was “The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that from 1980 to 1995”

“if you wish to misrepresent my position cjcjc that’s fine too.”

That is all he does. He spends his time coming on here to misrepresnt people. He even midrepresents himself. Still claiming he is not a Tory. Priceless.

But, sally, you weren’t quoting the BJS – you copied the entire paragraph from Corrections Today (which itself referenced the BJS) without crediting that publication. Are you so thick that you do not see the difference? Or are you habitually dishonest?

“Or are you habitually dishonest?”

Well you would no more about dishonesty than me troll. So I bow to your obvious expert knowledge on the subject.

@78 – And it wasn’t a case of not being arsed, I’ve proven my points, being arsed was in relation to your sprawling questions, answer them yourself.

@58 Many, many big questions that I can’t be arsed to answer in the depth required to not come across as glib.

OK.

Anyway, as you still fail to offer an alternative explanation to the outright collapse in the US crime rate – which of course has more than one cause – I am certainly happy with my own answer.

And I think you need to re-aquaint yourself with the meaning of the word “proven”

Ending posts with the glib “job done” (or sadly “cool”) does not, amazingly enough, mean that the job has been done!

@82 – Sally – I believe the apposite word is “pwned” – though given your natural style is so foul mouthed it’s hardly surprising you need to copy the work of others to make any kind of sense.

ukliberty rules!

Apparently the recedevist rate after someone had left the military glass house in the 50s and 60s was very low. Singapore has very levels of crime but then the punishments tend to be severe. It would would apear that there s a sufficiently large uneducated , unskilled , lazy and immoral class are causing much of the crime and imprisonment only works while they are in prison. In addition many crimnals grow out of crime by their early 40s.

Perhaps we need to look more closely at that parts of Britain whic has come to resemble the 18 c “Gin Alley” and impose tougher penalties on those who commit acts of violence and burglary. We need to ook at our education and welfare system to see whether it encourages or discourages the lazy , uneducated , unskilled and immoral to obtain the skills, education and honest work ethic, to enable them to to hold down a job.

Jesus this is getting tedious…

Regarding sally using evidence, maybe she didn’t highlight her source very well but quite frankly the fact she hasn’t is a blesing for cj and ukliberty because they can attack the person not the idea and as the idea offers contrary evidence to their point, suits them well.

cj: your two quotes of me, as always prove nothing, you wanted to take the debate into a further, trollish direction, even you can’t argue your incorrect idea into infinity although you’re having a good effort; if you wish naswers for those questions, find them yourself rather than feeding of my answers to perpetuate your trolling.

“Anyway, as you still fail to offer an alternative explanation to the outright collapse in the US crime rate – which of course has more than one cause – I am certainly happy with my own answer.”

Alternative explanations have been offered, keep an open mind rather than the shut one you use at present. Just as you have no rebuttal for the decade on decade crime increase from the 1900s and the prison population which has increased decade on decade from the 1900s, just as the high prison population does not equal low crime as evidenced by the high crime rates in the US and UK considering their high prison population.

You really are riding this silly idea to its very limits.

Job done.

Charlie: a lot of the use immoral there, which makes your ‘idea’ pretty flimsy.

Well as Sally seems to be claiming that the US crime rate is at a record high when in fact it is at a multi-decade low according to my BOJS link I’m not surprised.

Charlie – don’t worry. Daniel seems to believe that criminals are essentially automata with no moral agency. He was hoping for a universally sympathetic set of responses to his feelgood post.
Those who disagree are dismissed with an airy “job done”, or as “tedious” with an “are you still here”?
He seems to have forgotten that he started the debate himself.
Though perhaps his irritation at dissent suggests he really didn’t want a debate at all.
Merely for us to sit back and admire his liberal virtues.

The funny thing is that I agree that we need to find a “pathway out of crime”.
It’s just that while we are doing that (whatever that entails) it is obvious that victims are best protected by incapacitating the criminal, rather than otherwise.

Job half done.

Back again so quick?

You’re ducking, as I said, it was easy for you and uklib to attack the person rather than the evidence, Sally shouldn’t have given you the window but speaks volumes you crawl through it.

As for what I think about criminals, I know this long-winded exhange has gone on far too long but if you’d have read the post, you’d know that is not my thoughts on the matter.

Still, far easier for you to make straw man positions up for you to attack.

“He seems to have forgotten that he started the debate himself.”

The debate here is inherent, by the faculty of comments, I started nothing.

“Though perhaps his irritation at dissent suggests he really didn’t want a debate at all.”

Not irritated by debate, irritated by pushing of an idea discussed already.

“Merely for us to sit back and admire his liberal virtues.”

Oh dear.

As for this pathway out of crime, it mostly relies upon the number of people that live close or in poverty and the impact of that upon their life and the choices they have to make.

And locking people up up does not solve the problem, it merely stops the person inside from commiting crime and we have a possible legion of people willing to do that. All this nonsense about a core of people committing all crime is just that.

Job done, again.

Daniel, it seems to me from reading your comments in this thread that if you (re)read my comment @ 75 you may see we have more in common than you appear to think.

As for this:

Regarding sally using evidence, maybe she didn’t highlight her source very well but quite frankly the fact she hasn’t is a blesing for cj and ukliberty because they can attack the person not the idea and as the idea offers contrary evidence to their point, suits them well.

How does ignoring events post 1997 support any idea about events to date?

Regardless, sally proves in almost every comment that she is not interested in fostering constructive debate – anyone who disagrees with her is a Tory troll or brownshirt and can fuck off. No, she deserves no sympathy at all when people point out her failure to cite – or, if we’re being unkind, attempts to pass off other people’s work as her own.

UKLiberty:

That may well be the case that we have much in common, as for the data she quoted, if you look at the long term figures, our prison popluation has been going up and up since the 1900, along with the rate of reported crime. Thus, prisons don’t stop crime, they lock up criminals.

The factors for falls in crime are numerous, the main one is a good economic environment and low unemployment (esp.youth) which are, rough the circumstances we’ve been living in since 97.

As for Sally, we’ve had our run-ins also, so it goes but it still looked like ducking the idea by attacking the person, she may have offered up the attack but it didn’t need doing.

All this nonsense about a core of people committing all crime is just that.

Your saying so doesn’t make it so.
(Nor does mine of course…)

However the Home Office has stated on several occasions that a hardcore 100,000 commits around 50% of all crime, including in this document:
http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/cm50/5074/5074.pdf
and in many other places.

I would be genuinely interested to know on what basis you believe this to be “nonsense”.
Your claim implies that there is a group of people willing and able to commit crime, but only do so after others are locked up. How does that work?
And the corollary of your argument is that crime would fall, or at least not rise, if we locked fewer people up.
Is that really what you believe?

ukliberty – exactly. Not only did she appear only to make assertions without linking to the evidence, it turns out the assertions themselves were lifted! Pwned!!

But then I haven’t spotted Daniel linking to any evidence either….he just asserts that this or that is “nonsense”, or “flimsy”.

Job hardly done.

PS if too tedious to answer feel free to ignore.

We need to ook at our education and welfare system to see whether it encourages or discourages the lazy , uneducated , unskilled and immoral to obtain the skills, education and honest work ethic, to enable them to to hold down a job.

Given that over 70% of inmates suffer two or more mental health disorders, I would suggest that the first place to start looking for solutions would be our mental health systems.

I really think there isn’t nearly enough attention being paid to that particular statistic in this thread. But then, acknowledging it might undercut many people’s desire to believe that every single person is a fully autonomous rational agent, and that crime is always simply the result of people being “lazy , uneducated , unskilled and immoral”, rather than frequently being a result of untreated mental illness.

Daniel, I didn’t duck the idea at all. sally’s middle paragraph provided no figures post 1995 – the Corrections Today article was published in 1997 – yet after the mid 90s was when there was a relatively sharp drop in violent crime and a rise in the prison population! (that’s in the USA, by the way.)

The ‘quote’ from Wikipedia appears contrary to the official figures.

And if sally insists on abusing and attempting to bully people she should expect a little bit of unpleasantness in return – but I’m sure she’s big and ugly enough to cope with it. Moving on…

I did not claim that prison stops crime – I claimed it reduces crime. Surely it is reasonable to hypothesise that physically preventing people from committing crime would result in a reduced crime rate?

In relation to straight numbers, can we not talk about rates and per capita instead? Because, even if the crime rate is static, the prison population will increase as the population increases.

In relation to the core of criminals committing most crime, I thought this was today generally accepted – and indeed borne out by the figures (as cjcjc has provided).

Again, I do not claim locking people up is the best or sole method for reducing crime, merely that one can see the (somewhat heartless) logic of it.

cj:

This is getting tediously circular and has been for some time, I am now repeating myself…

It’s nonsense because that would mean if you locked up a finite amount of people there would be no crime, that is not the case because criminality is infinite, in the sense that anyone can be one, some more likely than others but anyone.

The Home Office statistic proves it, 50% of all reported crime is not all of it, it is half of it. Good grief this is painful…

“And the corollary of your argument is that crime would fall, or at least not rise, if we locked fewer people up.”

I have never, ever said that, you are straw manning the argument again and it is growing wearisome, this is circular, how many times do I have to say that you came into the discussion preaching the joys of prison, when in reality prison is only a reaction rather than a preventative, which is where the focus should be, rather than the build more prisons obsession.

And you speak of pwned with no sense of irony…

Duncan: I agree with you whole heartedly about mental health issues and those with them falling into crime and in turn in prison when they should rightly be in hospital, rather than being punished.

ukliberty:

Yes, you and cj are so busy laying into the person (something cj has repeated like an errant child above) that the idea passed you by.

Again this is circular, we both keep repeating our arguments in each comment, so to repeat mine, again, if prison reduces crime, why is that the prison population has risen since 1900 with crime hand in hand?

The idea that crime is dramatically reduced by locking people up would need the idea of a (Jesus wept I’ve typed this far too much) a finite number of people with offending behaviour. This does not exist.

I have no issue at all with people being put into prison but this ‘deabte’ illustrates that too much focus on it merely distracts from the more pressing issue of preventing offending behaviour.

Which is far harder and more complex to deal with than merely vomiting forth, BUILD MORE PRISONS!!!

Dunc @92 makes an excellent point.

Daniel,

It’s nonsense because that would mean if you locked up a finite amount of people there would be no crime,

But no-one has claimed that there would be no crime – the claim is that there would be a reduction in crime.

The idea that crime is dramatically reduced by locking people up would need the idea of a (Jesus wept I’ve typed this far too much) a finite number of people with offending behaviour. This does not exist.

Well, it’s good of you to be so patient.

The official figures say 50% of crime is committed by 100,000 people. Do you disagree with that? If you do, that seems a bit odd and not worth pressing the point. If you agree then surely it follows that locking up those 100,000 people might prevent 50% of crime?

if prison reduces crime, why is that the prison population has risen since 1900 with crime hand in hand?

I don’t know what you mean by hand in hand.

Page 2 of this document shows a graph of the prison population since 1900 – “the average prison population has increased by 85% since 1993.” (that’s when Michael Howard was Home Secretary). Or there is this graph for 1981 to 2003. You can see a relatively sharp upward trend since 1993.

Now look at this bar chart . You can see there is a downward trend since 1995. Or look at <a href=”http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0708.pdf#page=82″page 23 of this document in relation to violent crimes – again another downward trend since 1995. Or serious crimes in general on page 48 – since 1993, a clear downward trend.

Of course correlation is not causation.

Again I am not claiming that prison is the best solution – the point is that telling people prison does not prevent crime is contrary to what the facts appear to be, it’s a non starter.

Dunc’s angle at 92 is much better IMO and I did say early on that we should look to improving literacy and economic prospects.

uklib:

Duncan does indeed make a good point and one that is far more on topic then flannel about prisons.

“But no-one has claimed that there would be no crime – the claim is that there would be a reduction in crime.”

We’ve already done this! Prison popluation and crime has gone up hand in hand together for nearly 100 years.

As for the 50% of crime committed by 100,000 people, we have around 90,000 people in jail in the UK, so either the remaining 10,000 are very busy, or we don’t have all of the 100,000 or, GOD FORBID, the magical 100,000 is in reality a fluid, flexible, unfixed variable of hard core criminals that still only commit 50% of all reported crime, baring in mind that 50% of all crime goes unreported.

In other words, this magic 100,000 idea isn’t worth hanging a hat on because the variables are too great, also, if you locked up this (this is fucking ridiculous I’m having to argue this) 100,000 crime would not fall by 50% because, as I’ve said far too many times, the reasons behind crime and the idea of finite criminals are in the former too complex to be solved by just prison and in the latter, a non-existent formula.

By hand in hand I mean, prison population in the UK has risen decade on decade since 1900 and before, so has the number of reported offences risen decade on decade.

Thus, as I’ve said, if prison stops crime then since 1900 crime would have fallen or stayed at a low levle instead of going up.

“Dunc’s angle at 92 is much better IMO and I did say early on that we should look to improving literacy and economic prospects.”

if you wade through this thread you’ll see I’ve been expounding the complex causes of crime and the need of prevention rather than chucking an endless, endless stream of people in jail.

Daniel – fantastic comments. Thanks.

Fucking hilarious.

Watch the trolls get their knickers in a twist about procedure. They have got nothing!

Of course what is priceless about this debate is watching all the fake libertarians suddenly wanting to spend billions of tax payers money on building loads of prisons. Yea, as I said, FAKE Libertarians. They always show their true colours in the end.

Uk liberty, someone who runs a site on covering what he believes is an over bearing state is on here defending the tory troll who wants a massive increase in…………you won’t believe it……….more prisons.. You can not make it up.

By “procedure” do you mean bothering to write your own posts and indicating clearly where you are quoting the work of others?

Mind you we should have known that @72 couldn’t really have been you – it actually sounds rational.

Daniel,

Prison popluation and crime has gone up hand in hand together for nearly 100 years. … By hand in hand I mean, prison population in the UK has risen decade on decade since 1900 and before, so has the number of reported offences risen decade on decade.

That’s why I didn’t understand what you meant, because the latter isn’t true. See for example page 20 of this document, which says “BCS crime is now at the lowest ever level since the first results in 1981” and there is a graph showing a clear downward trend since 1995.

If we were in 1995 the results would be very different – it would indeed look like crime increased year on year, decade on decade, here in the UK and over in the US. That is why the Corrections Today article written in 1997 caught my attention. It’s quite interesting from that perspective because we have the benefit of later figures.

sally,

Uk liberty, someone who runs a site on covering what he believes is an over bearing state is on here defending the tory troll who wants a massive increase in…………you won’t believe it……….more prisons.. You can not make it up.

Clearly you are not only habitually dishonest and abusive, you also appear to do poorly with reading comprehension and logic. Just what are you good at, apart from being able to type “fuck off”, “brownshirt” and “troll”? Or does the nurse do that for you as well?

cjcjc,

Mind you we should have known that @72 couldn’t really have been you – it actually sounds rational.

Quite, it was the complete change in style that gave it away, indeed it’s something sally has been caught out on before if I recall correctly. Sally, if you’re going to plagiarise, at least make an effort to change some of the words – then it might be a bit more of a challenge for Google to find you out.

uklib – it is quite clear that Daniel either cannot or doesn’t want to understand that we (or at least I) partly agree with him.

It is also revealing that he has provided no links whatsoever to any evidence to back up any of his assertions concerning (eg) crime levels, crime rates, or under-reporting.
I’m not sure he even understands the difference between levels and rates.

And his assertion that crime was massively under-reported 100 years ago doesn’t seem to be consistent with his assertion that at the same time crime has massively risen over the past 100 years, although we would need to see the numbers to which he was referring (assuming not just in his head) to judge.

Ask him any questions and he simply responds – answer them yourself.

He tends to throw around the phrase “tory troll” quite a bit himself so perhaps he is the DrJekyll to Sally’s Mr Hyde?!

Thanks Sunny! I should have been around this place years ago but it slipped me radar, which is a shame for me as good stuff is here.

cj and uklib, see my previous answers, all has been covered there, you’re not reading my answers and perpetuating the same circular argument, we are all done here.

Daniel, I’m not sure what’s circular about suggesting that the official figures contradict your opinion that “the number of reported offences [has] risen decade on decade”.

What’s actually happened is that you have repeated this over and over (I know this because I have read your responses) despite being proved wrong.

And while you’re entitled to your own opinion, you’re not entitled to your own facts.

What’s circular is that we are arguing in circles, hence the use of the word circular.

For example, you repeat above, again, that your figures disprove mine but fail to have taken on board that (and this is the last fucking time I will type this), for the last 100 years, prison population and crime have gone up hand in hand, thus, the current fall in crime cannot be placed on prison numbers going up as prison numbers have gone up consistantly for 100 years to no effect on crime.

Other factors are in play, or to be really clear, prison numbers never reduced crime before why should they now?

As I said, best to move on.

Daniel, you have been shown that crime has been going down since 1995!

Why then do you think crime is going up?

Hello? McFly?

OK, clearly you’re an idiot so this is going to have to be like when I work in Primary Schools…

You insist that the increased prison population is an explanation for the dip in current crime figures.

Trouble is, our prison population and the crime figures having been going up since 1900 through to the late 90s, so if high prison populations meant low crime then crime wouldn’t have gone up as the prison population did from 1900, it would have stayed low.

Thus, if locking people up was the reason for a dip in crime figures now, then it should have meant that crime dipped for the last 100 years, when it didn’t.

As I keep saying, this discussion is very much over and has been for a long, long time.

our prison population and the crime figures having been going up since 1900 through to the late 90s…

Again, the crime rate began a downward trend in 1995, so why do you claim it continued to increase in the late 90s?

…so if high prison populations meant low crime then crime wouldn’t have gone up as the prison population did from 1900, it would have stayed low.

Thus, if locking people up was the reason for a dip in crime figures now, then it should have meant that crime dipped for the last 100 years, when it didn’t.

I think you’ve neglected to consider that crime rate isn’t a simple, linear function of national population or prison population; it is a function that, among other things, also has as variables the proportion of people who commit a disproportionate number of crimes (which is a fact regardless of your opinion), and how long people are locked up for.

Back again? This really is circular and your constant return to a dead subject matter is most odd.

I think you’ve neglected to get a grip of yourself and arguing over a long dead point. I think you’ve also neglected to consider that the crime rate isn’t down to one factor.

Prison does not reduce crime, it didn’t in 1920 and it doesn’t now, it merely locks up those that already have committed an offence.

Stop this tedious back and forth now, the point has been argued down to a minute detail and you’re not reading my responses.

How is it dead? You keep returning – but failing to substantively respond to any points, of course.

Surely this question wasn’t over your head:

“the crime rate began a downward trend in 1995, so why do you claim it continued to increase in the late 90s?”

It’s dead because the question you keep asking I have dealt with and by asking the same question, again and again, you duck the issue, as you did by attacking Sally rather than her idea.

Simple as that.

Prison does not stop crime, if it did, crime would have gone down as prison population has gone up but it has not.

Cool.

And it’s dead because the last 12 have just been us, which suggest that the matter is all talked out.

Do move along before this becomes a drag.

“through to the late 90s” explained:

Early 90s = 1990 to Dec 31st 1994
Late 90s = Jan 1st 1995 onward

This is not complex mathematics.

Neil, you’re too kind, I was hoping that ukliberty would just read and get that, I’ve spelt out enough in this thread.

Daniel,

Prison does not stop crime, if it did, crime would have gone down as prison population has gone up but it has not.

You’re quite resolute about being wrong, aren’t you?

You claimed “the crime figures having been going up since 1900 through to the late 90s”. Do you mean, through to “Jan 1st 1995 onward”? And how far “onward” is “through to”? Noting the downward slope in the pretty picture earlier.

Cool indeed.

Neil,

This is not complex mathematics

True: it’s semantics.

Have a good weekend, all.

High prison population mean absolutely nothing. Our prisons are bursting because our country has more crime. Why do we have more crime? For lots of reasons. One of the reasons is that our prisons are not punitive enough to deter criminals.

117. Jan Aleksandrowicz

“Trouble is, our prison population and the crime figures having been going up since 1900 through to the late 90s, so if high prison populations meant low crime then crime wouldn’t have gone up as the prison population did from 1900, it would have stayed low.”

No sensible person would say that a high prison population leads to low crime. You’re mixing cause and effect. We have a high prison population BECAUSE we have one of the highest crime rates in the advanced world.

Prison doesn’t “work” because it doesn’t punish, so doesn’t deter re-offending. All it does is to keep a small proportion of criminals off the streets at any one time, and hopes to fool the Sun-reading public into imagining that the answer is simply to build more prisons.This allows weak politicians to look ‘tough’ when in fact the same old liberal measures carry on behind the scenes.

Our prisons are useless because our ruling class winces at the idea that prisons should be seriously unpleasant and austere places run by the authorities. They moan that ‘deprivation of liberty is punishment enough’.

They are not able to grasp that prison’s main purpose is to frighten potential criminals from committing crimes. Some people are still afraid enough of prison to steer clear of crime. Though that number drops all the time, which is why the prisons are full.

But it is not just the prisons which are the problem. The reason there is so much crime around today is because since childhood criminals have come to learn that authority is generally absent and that even when it is present, it is afraid of them instead of the other way round. They are rarely confronted with the authority of fathers since increasingly they have no fathers to speak of, neither that of the police since they have largely withdrawn from the streets, they know that the authority of their teachers can only be a bluff; nothing stands behind it, they will almost never be backed up by superiors.

As Lenin, advised his apostles: ‘Probe with the bayonet: if you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push.’ The problem today is that young criminals can only expect to be confronted with more and more mush.

Uklib, this is pretty tiresome and this is always what happens when a discussion is over but a small piece keeps getting reduced down and down until we are now, utterly pointlessly talking about definitions for windows of time and the discussion becomes absurb.

We’re done.

Oz: I agree with you to a degree but the idea of prisons as more punitive, I mean I don’t know if you’re been in one but I have and they aren’t at all pleasent places and I hope never to have to set foot in one again. Prisons are an unsatisfactory answer to a very, very difficult question.

Jan: you don’t have to tell me that “No sensible person would say that a high prison population leads to low crime. You’re mixing cause and effect. We have a high prison population BECAUSE we have one of the highest crime rates in the advanced world.” I’m with you all the way, I’m just struggling with some that persist with the idea and who are arguing the point down to a nub.

It seems you’re with Oz in that you want prison to punish harder, trouble is most people are in there because what is outside is so bad, not all but most, so how do you punish those with nothing to lose, aside from resort to draconian and anti-human measures?

That’s why I don’t buy your tougher prisons logic I’m afraid.


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  1. Paranormal Guru

    Liberal Conspiracy » Meet the prisoners: About the author: Neil Robertson is a regular contributor to Liberal Co.. http://bit.ly/zSpXk





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