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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77484 Find in a Library
Title: Size of the Prison Population
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:21  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:70-74
Author(s): K Pease
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 5
Type: Statistics
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The practical implications of two recent documents which recommend ways to reduce overcrowding in British prisons are estimated and used as the basis for a critique of the documents.
Abstract: One document contains 57 recommendations from the Expenditure Committee to the Home Office; the other was issued by the Parliamentary All Party Penal Affairs Group. Official data were used to generate estimates of the numbers of prisoners who would be removed from the prison population as a result of the documents' recommendations. The Home Office rejects or equivocates about 35 of the Expenditure Committee's recommendations. Most of the rest have no obvious relationship to the size of the prison population, although a few have a marginal effect. For example, the recommendation that courts be notified of the availability of space in prisons and borstals may affect prison population. However, the recommendation concerning establishment of more special wings at prisons could increase populations. The proposals of the All Party Penal Affairs Group have a much closer relationship to the size of the prison population. Its report focuses first on such groups as those suffering from mental disorders and from habitual drunkenness and recommends their diversion from the prison system or reduced lengths of stay. The total diversion of all such groups would reduce the prison population by around 1,150. The second group identified for complete or partial diversion from prison consists of those who could be diverted without endangering the public. The only large group in this category consists of petty persistent offenders. This group is difficult to identify, however, and its diversion would require a major change in sentencing. Other groups such as maintenance defaulters and vagrants are small and would not affect the population significantly if diverted. Other recommendations such as increased use of bail might be difficult to implement. Thus, the most defensible proposals would make trivial impacts on the prison population, while the proposals with major impact would require a revolution in court practice. The only suggested change which offers the prospect of immediate and substantial reduction in the prison population is the introduction of conditional release after half sentence. Ten references are listed.
Index Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Critiques; Deinstitutionalization; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Inmate statistics; Law reform; Overcrowding; Prison population prediction
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