IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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No Winners: The reality of short term prison sentences

8th June 2011

This report from the Howard League of Penal Reform and the Prison Governors Association in the UK has investigated the experiences of those serving short term sentences. 

The report, entitled No Winners, found that men serving short sentences found them easier to complete than community service orders as they had 'put them out more'. The report interviewed 44 men serving sentences for less than 12 months and 25 prison staff to explore the effect short term sentences had.

The respondents were classified into two categories, the first timers and revolving door prisoners, who had notably different opinions about their sentence. First timers struggled more with their imprisonment as they were adamant that they would not return to prison in the future.

The revolving doors prisoners were relatively indifferent in their attitude to sentences. They did not look forward to their release as the quality of life was much better in prison than it was on the outside.

Many prisoners reported that they would have liked to complete courses but  that they were not available, resulting in prisoners being frustrated and bored with many prisoners spending long periods of time in their cells. 

Prison officers reported their frustration in short term sentences as they often led to men losing their jobs, losing their homes and to family breakdown.

Read more:

  • To read the summary report click here.
  • The full report can be purchased here.
  • Read an article from the Guardian newspaper here.
  • Read an article from the Independent(UK) here.