Alternatives to prison: ten more points (with some overlap)

We need to look at aspects of the question separately.
1. Physical crime prevention: locks, passwords, security guards, anti-fraud measures etc.
2. Social crime reduction: create a fairer, more equal society, employment, youth facilities etc. ‘Justice re-investment’ could be included here.
3. What to do with offenders when caught: hold them accountable for harm caused (especially if there is an individual victim), require reparation, but also remedy disadvantages (sub-standard eduction, addictions, lack of skills, lack of self-esteem, unemployment etc.)
4. This response to be focused on including the offender in the community, not on deterrence. For deterrence, rely on increasing probability of being caught. Where possible, keep out of the CJS, for example by diversion, restorative justice, civil action etc. Not just ‘prison as a last resort’ but ‘criminal justice as a last resort’. Need to ensure that restorative justice is available everywhere, as in Norway and Northern Ireland.
5. Avoid the word ‘punishment’ – use words like ‘offenders should take the consequences’, ‘make reparation’. Emphasise that community measures are also liberty-restricting sanctions
6. Re-create Day Training Centres (a.k.a. Day Reporting Centres) – community-based centres providing training etc. (but with safeguards to prevent them being used in place of less restrictive measures).
7. Recognise that some prisons will still be necessary, e.g. to enforce community sanctions, restrain the dangerous, but require that anyone sent to prison is sent for a stated purpose such as group therapy, anger management, alternatives to violence. Length of sentences should take account of needs of offender, not only seriousness of offence. Alternatively, they could be proportionate to offence as now, but suspended unless there was a specific reason such as liability to commit further serious offences (with safeguards as above in 6.).
8. Need to address a major function of sentencing: ‘denunciation’, i.e. showing everyone how serious the offence was. Could be done by ‘points’, cf. motoring offences, but that would not be enough for serious offences. Could be measured as a period of time, but suspended (as above in 7.)
9. Require any new law creating a new offence (or increasing a maximum penalty) to be accompanied by a statement of measures being introduced at the same time to prevent that offence (e.g. security devices for motor vehicles, public education for drunk driving.)
10. Ensure that money saved by reducing the prison population is used to fund the community-based programmes that made the reduction possible (a different version of ‘payment by results!).