Now another thing came to me today while I was on my way home, I have helped a fair few prisoners through work, and I have noticed that a lot of them have problems with basic literacy and writing. Now this has to play a large part in their choice they make in their life after prison. As how can we expect someone who can’t read and right properly to hold down a job?
So I have come up with a bit of a carrot and a stick idea to help reduce re-offending, firstly we give these people the skills that can help them to reform and become a helpful member of society and if that fails we have the stick. Which would reduce re-offending rather significantly.
Now the idea follows a similar path as my drug treatment plan, which was we deal with the addiction then the punishment starts and we release the prisoner addiction free back in to society. Well I thought we could maybe do something similar with an education element. Every prisoner would be tested to see what their reading, writing and literacy skills are and they are put on a compulsory scheme which will bring them up to a minimum A-level/NVQ standard. This would allow them to get a job upon release that paid a reasonable amount to live off.
Now we could make it a parole condition that until a person has achieved such a qualification then they would not be eligible for release. Now some people would think this is barbaric keeping people in prison unless they achieve a set qualification. But If we release them with the tools to be able to go out and work surely that has to be better than keeping them in a cell for a set period of time and then just kicking them out with no skills and have them arrested 6 months down the line for breaking the law again.
Now the second part of my idea the stick part is not a new idea, it’s something that certain parts of the USA already use; which is the three strikes and you get life. Now I wouldn’t go for just any three criminal acts like three speeding tickets and you get life in prison; as that would be a little harsh. However I would have it set at three convictions of offences that were either an automatic indictable offence such as Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent or 3 conviction of an either way offence like Burglary or Theft.
Now I am all for giving people a chance and a second chance, but I think we need to draw the line at some place, and I think 3 chances is a fair shot for breaking the law. Especially when if you watch a criminal trial for burglary or alike when convicted they will normally ask for other offences to be considered, so it’s not like these people have only broken the law 3 times in most cases. With a policy like this it would act as a deterrent to people not to commit crime.
However there is one big question as to how we would fund this, as undoubtedly we would be locking people up in prison for longer, and in a fair few cases for life. It would be unfair to expect the tax payer to increase their contributions to help fund such a scheme. So I thought we could utilise these large groups of people in a productive way. Lots of prisons in the USA use prisoners to make things as it reduces the tedium of being locked up.
So I thought we could build factories within prisons that companies could use to manufacture their goods. They would have to pay the prison service say minimum wage for each of the prisoners that they employed and in turn each of the prisoners would be paid the standard prison rate for a day’s work. This way we are paying the prisoner for the work they do and funding the upkeep of prisons, so there could be no accusations of generating “slave” labour.
I think a combined approach of treating addiction and educating criminals should give them the skills and opportunities to lead a crime free life; with the threat there that if they don’t change their ways then we will come down very hard on them and remove them from society.