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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77193 Find in a Library
Title: Persistent Petty Offenders
Author(s): S Fairhead
Corporate Author: Great Britain Home Office
Research and Planning Unit
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 84
Sponsoring Agency: Great Britain Home Office
London. SW1H 9AT, England
Pendragon House
Mystic, CT 06355
Sale Source: Pendragon House
185 Willow Street
P.O. Box 424
Mystic, CT 06355
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: These Home Office research reports study persistent petty offenders in England as part of a larger effort to reduce prison overcrowding. The reports focus on the social disadvantages of persistent petty offenders, police interaction with them, and their sentencing.
Abstract: The study of social disadvantages experienced by petty offenders was confined to prisoners serving sentences of imprisonment and those committed in default of paying fines. Information was collected from records and through interviews with individual offenders. Results indicate that intervention, particularly in the case of older offenders, would have to be directed towards changing the system to make available alternative responses to offenders' behavior. For example, the petty offender's nuisance behavior could be tolerated or reacted to without the police having to make an arrest. In addition, police interaction with homeless petty offenders was studied in London and Brighton, with results suggesting that shelters should be established to house the homeless since many arrests of homeless persons appeared to have been made for the individuals' protection. Furthermore, magistrates' current practices in dealing with persistent petty offenders were examined through observations and a survey questionnaire. This study concludes that for alternative decisions to be made at the point of sentencing, support services for petty offenders must be improved and magistrates must adopt a more tolerant attitude and must trust the community's ability to cope with such offenders. Finally, a project designed to help homeless prisoners in Pentonville Prison find accommodations upon release is described, as is a program to help the socially isolated released prisoner in Leeds. Conclusions from these studies emphasize the difficulty of estimating the effect that shelters and similar facilities for petty offenders have on the prison population. However, the impact will probably not be sufficient to solve prison overcrowding. Additional remedies, such as shorter sentences, should be considered. Tabular data and footnotes accompany several of the studies. A list of Home Office publications and 10 references are appended.
Index Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Arrest and apprehension; Crisis shelters; Deinstitutionalization; Discretionary decisions; England; Habitual offenders; Judicial diversion; Loitering; Misdemeanor; Police diversion; Prerelease programs; Prosecutorial diversion; Public nuisance; Sentencing reform; Sentencing/Sanctions; Vagrancy
Note: Home Office Research Study no. 66.
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