Regular visitors to this site will be well aware that we don't agree with every proposal coming out of CCHQ at the moment, but today's announcement on prisons was really excellent.
The two key elements that the Shadow Justice team got right were incentives and managerial freedom and responsbility:
- Incentives: Prisoners would be incentivised to behave well in prison because only by doing this do they get out early, while prisons themselves would be incentivised to deliver good rehabilitation programmes because only by preventing re-offending do they receive bonus payments. This latter proposal was contained in a report written by Lord Ramsbotham and published by the TPA a few weeks ago, so it's encouraging to see the Conservative Party take note.
- Managerial freedom and responsibility: Public sector prisons would be decentralised and able to run their own rehabilitation programmes in their own way. No more targets and bureaucracy getting in the way! They would also become directly responsible for offenders after they are released. Given that the bonus payments would not be paid until the offender has gone straight for two years, the prisons would not be able to cut corners on probation services.
Overall, the proposals have a real chance of making prison rehabilitation work, and so stopping the endless churn of prisoners through the system, which wastes money and ruins the lives of both victims and criminals. It's worth reading the full report (downloadable here).