UK’s Planning to Scrap Short Prison Sentences to Avoid Overcrowding

Analyses of official statistics suggest that the UK government’s planned sentencing law may lead to nearly 23,000 offenders escaping just punishment for their crimes.

According to a new legal presumption established by the measure, offenders facing sentences of less than twelve months should instead face penalties via unpaid labor, such as cleaning up neighborhoods or removing graffiti from walls. Instead of receiving a straight prison term, some criminals, including shoplifters, robbers, drug traffickers, and drunk drivers, may be eligible for a suspended prison sentence.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) conducted an impact study of the law and found that, in the most probable “central” scenario, 63% of the offenders might be anticipated to earn suspended sentences. According to Rory Geoghegan, a former No. 10 advisor on crime and founder of the Public Safety Foundation, 22,934 criminals who were incarcerated for less than 12 months in the year leading up to June 2023 should have been eligible for the presumption against incarceration.

A total of 3,852 shoplifters, with an average prison term of 2.1 months, 1,537 people found guilty of assaulting an emergency worker, with a sentence ranging from 4.2 months to 8.1 months, 1,597 burglars, with sentences ranging from 5.2 months to 8.1 months, and 345 drug dealers, with sentences ranging from 8.2 months to 8.1 months, could have been included in the legislation.

Many have pronounced the law “dangerous and misguided” and demanded its repeal. They feel the ruling will encourage criminal behavior, giving offenders the green light to attack police, go on risky adventures, and take advantage of others – all while knowing that a suspended sentence will be the only effective punishment.

Over forty members of parliament have signed on to a number of modifications to weaken the Sentencing Bill. After expressing concern that the move may jeopardize public safety, former home secretary Suella Braverman has placed the amendments on hold. The plans call for obligatory two-year jail terms for repeat offenders, with the stipulation that the court must be sure the offender does not represent a threat to society and does not have a high likelihood of reoffending.

There has been no word from the administration on when the bill would be brought back to Parliament. In addition to releasing hundreds of inmates up to sixty days before their sentences expire, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has previously proposed additional measures to alleviate prison overcrowding.