12th September 2011
Make Justice Work (MJW) is a national campaign in the UK aimed at reforming the way the criminal justice system deals with low-level offenders. The goal of the campaign is to inform policy makers about the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of robust alternatives to short-term prison sentences.
With this in mind, coupled with the fact that 65% of prisoners in the UK are serving sentences less than 12 months, Make Justice Work commissioned a National Enquiry to investigate and compare the value and efficacy of short-term prison sentences and community based alternatives to custody.
The Enquiry, entitled Community or Custody: Which Works Best?, comprised of a renowned group of criminal justice experts, political commentators and campaigners. The Enquiry held four investigative meetings at four different locations around the country, with each meeting focusing on a specific category of offender.
The Report not only found that spells in prison do not act as an effective deterrent for multiple low-level offenders and offer little relief to the community, but it also highlighted the significant savings to the taxpayer when some community options were favoured over custody.
The four main recommendations of the Enquiry were:
The authors hope that this Report will go towards informing the community of alternatives to custody and instill confidence in what actually works instead of what simply looks tough. It is believed that robust based community based alternatives will help offenders move towards a stable, productive and crime-free life. It is hoped that by utilising community based alternatives the savings generated will allow the Government to invest in tackling the causes of offending.