K101 Tma09

Main points/Arguments
No evidence

Punishment and Justice in England and Wales, Sussex, Book Guild Publishing.)

Almost all of the information disseminated to the British public about prisons is highly
misleading and frequently incorrect. The media often publishes the propaganda of the well­
organised and vociferous anti-prison lobby. This claims that there are too many people in
prison, that the UK sends more people to prison than many other countries, that prisons fail
and are colleges of crime, that prisons are ‘human dustbins’ with entirely negative regimes,
and that prisons are more expensive than the alternative of placing the offender on some form
of community supervision.
All of these are contradicted by the facts. Data held in government archives and elsewhere
shows overwhelmingly that prisons are more effective than community penalties in their
ability to protect the public and to reform criminals. But this is evidence that many officials in
the criminal justice system would prefer to ignore.
I frequently hear many private individuals, as well as public officials argue vehemently
against the use of prison. This lack of normal caution in discussing a subject about which
most of them know very little indicates, I believe, that their response is a reflex, a conditioned
response brought about by years of exposure to unrelenting anti-prison brainwashing. This
unwillingness to give up long held ideas, even in the face of evidence which overwhelmingly
contradicts them, is well known to psychologists and to historians. In the sixteenth century,
for example, Copernicus produced a mathematical model which demonstrated that the sun,
and not the earth was the centre of our universe. But for a long time after this, individuals and
organisations with vested ideological and career interests in preserving the old ideas about the
cosmos resisted this evidence.
Similarly today, I believe, many in the criminal justice system ignore...