Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Britain's prisons reek of a wretchedly backward nation

"When Blair came to power there were 129 shoplifters in prison, now there are 1,400; back then there were fewer than 4,000 life prisoners, now there are 6,431 — more than in Germany, France, Italy and Turkey combined.

"The female prison population has doubled under Blair, dominated by drug offences in which women are usually the dupes of others. Two-thirds of these women have dependent children. As for under-18s, Britain imprisons 23 for every 100,000 of the population, as against six in France, two in Spain and 0.2 in Finland. This cannot reflect innate criminality, only a vindictive judicial system and a government wholly unconcerned with reoffending — now running at two-thirds within two years (compared with 50% in 1992). Penal policy in Britain is an inhumane shambles." —Simon Jenkins

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