Bar Council backs Clarke over prison reform

NICHOLAS Green QC, the Chairman of the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has said the Bar Council is
willing to lend its support to the Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke QC MP, as he makes tough and potentially unpopular decisions regarding the prison system, though they must lead to a better and more efficient administration of justice.


Responding to news reports that Ken Clarke was to address rising prison numbers, Nicholas Green QC said:
“The public needs protection from dangerous offenders; but far too often short sentences are just a costly ticket to a life of crime. “Our current approach to sentencing and imprisonment is failing. Prisons are expensive, and do not reduce recidivism. It makes no sense to pay so much for a system which does little more for the public than provide a security blanket, which all too frequently is pulled away by sky-high reoffending rates.

“The way forward is to depoliticise sentencing policy, allowing Judges greater freedom to impose the appropriate sentence, whatever
that might be. This will have a deflationary effect on prison numbers, save a huge amount of money and focus attention on tough and effective non-custodial sentences, which will include a valuable element of payback to society. We also need to consider other measures to prevent crime, which may well have a greater effect on offending than punishing after the event.

“The Bar Council has no political axe to grind. We represent barristers on all sides of the justice system. Barristers prosecute, defend and sit as Judges. The urgent need to reduce debt is actually a rare opportunity for bold reform and we will support Ken Clarke as hemakes these tough decisions based on rationality and not on what just sounds good."

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