In the UK and in most western nations we have a problem with re-offending rates of prisoners upon release.  Now lots of things have been tried and none of them have really worked, we still have a problem with 90% of those sent to prison in 2011 having had a previous conviction.  Watching Newsnight on Tuesday got me thinking about this.  Now I have previously blogged on prisons and how they should be used as a way of helping to treat offenders who are addicted to drugs, alcohol and other things.  Now I am sure that if you introduced that it would have some impact on re-offending rates. 

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. 

Now if we go back 60 years to the early 1950’s male homosexuality was illegal, and you could find yourself in prison just for following through with your sexual attractions to another man.  However at this time attitudes were starting to change with regards to if this should be a criminal offence.  Then we saw in 1957 the Wolfenden Report  which suggested the decriminalisation of certain sexual acts. 

Which eventually did materialise a decade latter with the Sexual Offences Act 1967; and over the coming decades we have seen major changes in public attitudes to homosexuality.  Now culminating in the current consultation that is looking at how we can grant marriage equality for same sex couples and we have a raft of anti-discrimination law for homosexuals. 

However today I was saw a re-tweet of a link to a news story comparing homosexuality with paedophilia (  By a group who want to normalise the attraction of people to children.  Wishing to de-sensitize society to the effects of paedophilia so that some people may consider it normal like we do with homosexuality now.

So naturally I had a look at their website to see how credible this group actually is, and to see if it’s not just a group of paedophiles’ trying to find a way of justifying what they do so that they can eventually campaign for the de-criminalisation of their actions.    However their website doesn’t list names of either the lay people or the medical professionals that are part of this organisation.  So it does raise credibility questions. 

However as a gay woman I find their stance and comparison to the LGBT movement unnerving and very offensive.  As with homosexuality it concerns two consenting adults, who know and understand what they are doing and can rationalise their feelings for each other. 

Whereas does a young child know what is happening and would they want to have sexual relations with a middle aged man?  Now I know some 8 year olds are very bright you occasionally hear of an 8 year old getting a GCSE or an A-level.  But that type of intelligence is not the same as being able to cognitively understand what sex is.  This is why we have an age of consent for sex; as this is the age where people can understand what sex is. 

I don’t think any rational human being would agree that we should let paedophiles have sex with children because they consider it to be a natural thing just like homosexuality.  The problem is not if it is a natural thing or not, but it’s what it is doing.   There are numerous scientific studies that say children that go through sexual abuse can have a multitude of problems in later life.   This on its own should be enough to convince people that to even consider talking about the possibility of doing something with the law on this issue should just not happen. 

This I see as being one of the few things that society will never be able to accept, because of the shear destructive effect that it can have on the lives of the children involved.  It is an abhorrent and egregious act and we shouldn’t be looking at listening to their nonsense we should be looking at ways to strengthen the protective measures in place to stop these people doing it in the first place.  Personally I consider this a crime up there with murder and should upon conviction automatically generate a life sentence, on public protection grounds.