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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78436 Find in a Library
Title: Custody and Its Alternatives
Journal: SASD Bulletin  Issue:8  Dated:(February 1981)  Pages:19-29
Author(s): C G B Nicholson
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 11
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This speech by a Scottish law enforcement official to a Scottish conference on delinquency examines the advantages and disadvantages of imprisonment and reviews current alternatives to custody.
Abstract: Some criminals, such as terrorists or persons convicted of violent crimes, must be placed in secure confinement for long periods in the interest of public safety. Although the deterrent effect of prison is questionable, imprisonment as punishment is a proper aim of sentencing and has broad public support. Treatment has also been considered an incidental benefit of custody. Imprisonment, however, can have harmful consequences for the prisoner's employment, family, and personality and is inappropriate for some offenders, particularly those with mental problems. The cost of maintaining a person in prison is substantial both in terms of daily expenses and capital outlays. Unfavorable comparisons are often made between prison practices in the United Kingdom and other European countries, notably Holland. For example, the average daily prison population in Holland with its 14 million population is around 3,000, while Scotland with less than half that total population has an average prison population of about 5,000. These differences can be attributed to the important role of public prosecutors in Holland who pressure judges for shorter sentences and use their substantial discretionary powers to warn offenders rather than prosecute. In contrast to England and Wales, Scotland's prison population has been static since 1970 and shows signs of decreasing slightly. This trend suggests that courts in Scotland are using more noncustodial alternatives as well as giving shorter sentences. Reductions in sentences could also be achieved through expanded use of parole and government intervention in special circumstances. Community facilities such as hostels, day centers, and detoxification centers could serve custody functions, and combinations of custody and supervision could be devised for young adult offenders. Other options are weekend or partial imprisonment and house arrests. No references are cited.
Index Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Correctional reform; Incarceration; Scotland
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