You Break It – You Fix It
We need to look at punishment from the criminal’s viewpoint, not ours. Many criminals get up late, laze around home all day and rarely go out – except to commit crime. Their worst nightmare is what most of us do every day – having to get up early, travel across London and do a hard days work. Being locked-up in a prison cell for most of the day may be our idea of hell but for many it’s just like being at home – except they don’t have to pay for food and heating! Payback sentences (“community sentences” sounds soft and it isn’t) are tough punishments that give back to Londoners, rather than us paying to keep criminals in prison, and it gets offenders used to the idea of work. We need a far greater emphasis on getting convicted criminals to put something back into society.
In prison, the only thing most people learn is how to be a better criminal – classes where inmates learn something useful like how to read and write are voluntary! Life after prison presents serious obstacles to housing and employment as prisoners lose their links with their own communities, and many reoffend soon after their release1.
We need to make criminals pay something back to society for their crimes whilst at the same time giving them the skills to make the most of a second chance. At this election, for the first time ever, Londoners get to vote for a Mayor who will also be the Police and Crime Commissioner for London.
- As Mayor I will establish a London wide “Payback” programme where convicted criminals are made to work full days, putting something back into society.
- Rather than sit in a cosy cell in prison for hours on end, criminals will clean-up graffiti, repair broken fences, clear-up fly-tipped rubbish and improve public spaces in London.
- Londoners will decide what needs to be done to improve their area, things that local authorities cannot afford to do, and the Probation Service will make sure those criminals on payback sentences work to meet these local priorities.
- As part of this programme, there will be better identification of, and support for, those with mental health problems and other complex needs, to help combat the underlying issues that lead to repeat offending.
- I will expand the Victim Code in London to include the right to face-to-face restorative justice. Research shows that victims are much less fearful if they get a chance to meet the person who offended against them and it makes offenders realise the impact their offending has on people, reducing reoffending.
Payback sentences can teach people the self-discipline they need to get back into work as well as reconnecting offenders with their community. With Londoners and the Criminal Justice System working together we will begin at last to break the endless cycle of crime in our capital city.
1 75% of young men (18-20) sent to prison are reconvicted within two years Civitas, Youth Crime Factsheet, 2010