Should offenders be allowed to take part in unpaid work schemes?
Having offenders engage in work that is useful, helpful to communities and undoes some of the damage they may have cause seems obvious however there has been an increasing number of threats to supervisors and even violence against those doing the work there may be an unexpected downside to such work schemes
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Prison space is limited
Whilst prison may be seen as some as the most effective form of prevention of crime and protection of society, there quite simply is not enough space. Prisons are like landfill sites, they just keep being filled and now we have come to a stage where we recognise the need to recycle. Instead of putting people who are only serving short sentences into prison, we should instead make them work on the streets with a tag around their ankle. This is a fair compromise.
So instead of spending money on prisons and making room for them we would rather see criminals on our streets? Before you can recycle you need to treat the trash. For criminals, prison is the only treatment.
<< This has nothing to do with the debate. The debate is talking about the system we currently have, letting prisoners go do work (ie clean the highways) while supervised. They say it is a dangerous task to supervise and the debate is asking if this is worth it. You are just proposing a new system that allows criminals to be on the streets to continue with their criminal acts. So not only does your argument not match the debate, it doesnt make sense period...
People need to be reintregrated into society
In order to prevent offenders repeating their crime we need to get them integrate3d into society. We need to establish them into the existing norms of society. We need to get the into the habit of following the same rules as the rest of us. This quite simply does not happen in prison. By keeping all prisoners in one place, together, all you are doing is re-enforcing the idea of ‘us against them. In turn this will lead to more crime.
>> People in jail would not have a choice and forced to work to clean the graffiti, not that hard of a concept to grasp
We need to get them following the same rules as the rest of us, and integrated into our norms? I do not know what idealist deluded world you think we live in, but the norm is not to complete work in the community for free. People do not offer their free time to wash off graffiti! This is far from the norm. Therefore, on these schemes, the criminals are in fact learning nothing about the way in which people should behave in society and so after their scheme is complete; they will be likely to commit their crime again.
They avoid prison culture
The difference being that in prison, surrounded by only other criminals there becomes a culture of criminality which would be heard to get out of. At least out in the openness of society, criminals have the opportunity to socialise with non-criminals, or lesser criminals in the outside world. The culture of criminality is less likely to develop if criminals are not spending all of their time amongst other criminals. This is especially true for the criminals that are likely to be placed on these work schemes. They are the petty criminals. If they went to prison, surrounded by harsher criminals, they may actually become more serious criminals than what they arrived as.
Offenders will avoid socialising with those outside their own social groups, which will be made of other offenders, and they will be discouraged or forbidden from interacting too much with the public in case it causes security issues or makes the public feel uncomfortable.
Offenders are abusing their supervisors.
Surveys are showing that supervisors on these unpaid work schemes are showing that increasing numbers are unhappy in their position. The offenders are threatening the supervisors and are generally acting in an intimidating manner. There have been reports of extremely intimidating behaviour such as threatening to rape their supervisors children and deliberate acts of intimidation such as slashing their supervisors tyres. Unpaid work schemes should curtail crime, not increase it. Therefore we should scrap the scheme altogether. [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/aug/31/offenders-unpaid-work-attack-supervisors]]
Surely this does not show that we should scrap the scheme, it shows that the supervisors need more support. Such threats and acts of intimidation should not be able to occur. It would not occur if the criminals were in fear of their superiors. However, with the low level of staffing, poor training, and only ah £8.50 an hour wage, how can we expect these supervisors to instil that fear?
People are abusing the offenders.
The whole idea behind the work schemes is to try and rehabilitate people into society. Making them feel part of the community and to see the joy in helping others. However, this cannot be the case when the offenders are subject to abuse from the public, and thereby causing more crime. In July, a 19 year old offender in Hackney was shot by a gang member simply because he was in his part of ‘the hood’[[http://www.u.tv/News/Offenders-on-unpaid-work-schemes-attack-supervisors/ea25d884-200b-412f-a54b-28bca0b78a1b]]. This is not teaching the offenders anything about reformation, but rather re-affirming their old values.
The same occurs in prisons! Except the violence in prison is worse. With so many criminals under one roof and so many officers, there becomes the resentment of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This reinforces criminality. However, if on these work schemes criminals are attacking other criminals, then they are less likely to form an allegiance. They are then more likely to form an allegiance with their protecting supervisors and thereby less likely to commit crime.
This is public humiliation!
Hanging people at the stake and throwing rotten vegetables at the blocks was abolished a long time ago. But these two heinous punishments have something in common with the unpaid work schemes; public humiliation. The offenders are not brought to a desolated places, they are not made to work behind closed doors, they are made to work in public, in full view of all those around. Just to make sure humiliation and recognition of their criminal status, these offenders are then made to wear brightly coloured jackets. These schemes should be abolished under the same reasoning as the other two forms of punishment.
There is a huge gap in the similarities you are trying to draw between hanging at the stake and work schemes; physical harm. It is this element that led to hanging being made illegal, not the humiliation of it being done in public. Surely shame is one of the most effective tools society has against crime; we should use it! We can shame people out of crime! If these criminals are being laughed at by their peers, it will make them think about what they have done and the reasons for it. It will make crime less rewarding for the criminal if it has a laughable stigma to it rather than the street cred a prison sentence may give criminals.
With budgets being cut, so are staffing levels
One reason for the increase in crime in the coalition Government’s idea on spending. They are cutting costs on these unpaid work schemes by cutting staffing levels. This however, is not safe. One supervisor for 12 offenders is quite simply not enough. A more careful and rigid approach is needed, brought by more staff, in order to keep the offenders contained. Cutting staffing levels is dangerous not only for the supervisors, but also the offenders themselves.
Surely this is a problem with the funding, not with the schemes themselves! The answer then is not to scrap the schemes altogether, but to invest more into them. These schemes would be less expensive than prison, bearing in mind the costs of food, electricity water and the staff needed for the night shift in prison. It would be wiser for the budget to invest a little into these work schemes and to save money in the grand scheme of things by way of prison costs.
Supervisors are not reporting repeat offenders
The offenders on these schemes will be offender of the more petty violent crimes and criminal damage. But when they are placed on these work schemes they are re-offending. They are making threats, they are abusing their supervisors they are causing damage. But the supervisors are not prepared to report such conduct. They fear that if they tell, they will be accused of not being good at their job which they do not want. But this means that repeat offenders are not being re-punished and given a sentence that appropriately reflects the seriousness of their criminal nature. This is dangerous for society and it makes an ineffective criminal justice system.
What do you think?