There is a shaky evidence base for incredibly long sentences (100 years plus), Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Birmingham argues in a recent post on The Conversation.
Following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that life sentences without parole are a breach of human rights, the government has proposed extra long sentences as an alternative.
But Dr Bandyopadhyay argues that 'the logic behind 100-year sentences is weak'. He adds:
'The best argument for extra-long sentences might therefore seem to be a moral one – but even here, we are on increasingly shaky ground. A growing body of new research suggests that some murderers have underdeveloped brains. Rather than being victims of social circumstance, their actions may yet turn out to stem from neurological development rather than moral depravity. From this point of view all crime is not necessarily a moral choice – violent crime perhaps even less so...
'If we accept the logic behind 100-year sentences is weak, we must admit that they are nothing more than a way to gratify the Conservative voter and show off the party’s commitment to Britain’s “sovereignty” in the run-up to the European parliament elections.'
Dr Bandyopadhyay's post can be read here.
Police, prisons and crime rates (July 11, 2012)
Reducing the numbers in custody: looking beyond criminal justice solutions (January 23, 2012)
Building on sand: Why expanding the prison estate is not the way to 'secure the future' (July 14, 2008)