Halve prison numbers to cut spending?

Monday, 7 September 2015

The Ministry of Justice should halve the prison population if it wants to meet the target cuts in departmental spending set out by the Chancellor, says the Howard League for Penal Reform. The proposal, announced today, formed the basis of the Howard League's submission to the government's Spending Review 2015, which asked departments without ring-fenced budgets to submit plans to reduce spending by 25-40 per cent.

The proposals explain how massive cuts to the Ministry of Justice's budget could be beneficial to everyone if done the right way.

The Howard League suggests a set of policies that would achieve such reductions in the prison population:

  • prohibit the use of short-term sentences (less than 12 months)
  • limit the use of remand
  • reduce recalls to custody
  • use women's centres in the community, not prisons
  • improve the effectiveness of the parole system
  • reduce the number of criminal offences
  • tackle sentence inflation

You can also read comments by our Director, Richard Garside, about how cuts to police budgets offer an opportunity to rebalance public policy and rebuild needed social institutions.