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Top judge says drug addicts fuel jail overcrowding

  1. Lunar Loops
    This from Reuters (UK):
    Top judge says drug addicts fuel jail overcrowding

    Tue May 30, 2006 11:45 AM BST


    LONDON (Reuters) - Drug addicts are deliberately committing crime to receive treatment in prison, fuelling chronic overcrowding, the top judge in England and Wales said.
    Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said short sentences were pointless and that drug users convicted of less serious offences should receive treatment outside prison.
    Overcrowding was "absolutely fatal" for the treatment of inmates, he added. "We need much better drug rehabilitation facilities in the community," he said in an interview with the Guardian on Tuesday. "It should not be necessary to commit an offence in order to get drug treatment.


    "I am afraid the reality in many parts of the country is that it is."
    A spokesman for his department said Lord Phillips was concerned people would commit offences to be sent to prison because they had had trouble receiving treatment within the community.
    "They think 'my best way of sorting this out is to commit another offence,'" the spokesman said. "Obviously he doesn't condone that thought process. There needs to be more community rehabilitation to stop that mind-set."
    Drugs education charity DrugScope said his comments confirmed anecdotal evidence from drug treatment workers. "Treatment waiting times have fallen, but more needs to be done to improve access, choice of treatment and retention," the group's Chief Executive Martin Barnes said in a statement.

    LONDON (Reuters) - Drug addicts are deliberately committing crime to receive treatment in prison, fuelling chronic overcrowding, the top judge in England and Wales said.
    Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said short sentences were pointless and that drug users convicted of less serious offences should receive treatment outside prison.
    Overcrowding was "absolutely fatal" for the treatment of inmates, he added. "We need much better drug rehabilitation facilities in the community," he said in an interview with the Guardian on Tuesday. "It should not be necessary to commit an offence in order to get drug treatment.


    "I am afraid the reality in many parts of the country is that it is."
    A spokesman for his department said Lord Phillips was concerned people would commit offences to be sent to prison because they had had trouble receiving treatment within the community.
    "They think 'my best way of sorting this out is to commit another offence,'" the spokesman said. "Obviously he doesn't condone that thought process. There needs to be more community rehabilitation to stop that mind-set."
    Drugs education charity DrugScope said his comments confirmed anecdotal evidence from drug treatment workers. "Treatment waiting times have fallen, but more needs to be done to improve access, choice of treatment and retention," the group's Chief Executive Martin Barnes said in a statement.

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  1. Lunar Loops
    Reid clashes with judge on prison numbers

    As a follow up, this article appeared on http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/. Poor old John Reid eh? A phrase to do with heads and chopping blocks springs to mind:


    Reid clashes with judge on prison numbers
    By Graeme Wilson, Political Correspondent
    (Filed: 31/05/2006)



    John Reid clashed with the country's most senior judge yesterday after he voiced alarm at the soaring number of offenders being packed into Britain's jails.
    The Home Secretary hit back after Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, argued that too many minor offenders were being sent to prison.
    In a powerful intervention, Lord Phillips argued that prison should be a last resort reserved for the most serious crimes, but stressed that community sentences would only be accepted as an alternative if they included "significant punishment".
    He went on to claim that the problem was being made worse by drug addicts who were deliberately committing crimes in a desperate bid to benefit from treatment programmes run by prisons.
    His comments were endorsed last night by Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice, who argued that overcrowding was the biggest obstacle to a successful prison service.
    The criticism from two of the most respected legal figures in England is the latest blow for Mr Reid, who has been battling to get a grip of the foreign prisoner fiasco since his appointment this month.
    In a newspaper interview yesterday, Lord Phillips expressed deep concern about the pressure being caused by a prison population that is expected to pass 80,000 later this year.
    He claimed that some people were committing crimes to get help to kick their drug habits.
    "We need much better drug rehabilitation facilities in the community. It should not be necessary to commit an offence in order to get drug treatment. I am afraid the reality in many parts of the country is that it is," he said.
    Lord Phillips said people should only be sent to prison as a last resort and added that the most "sensible place for rehabilitation is in the community".
    He also criticised the practice of sending offenders to jail for a couple of weeks so they get a "touch of prison". Lord Phillips said such short sentences made life "impossible" for the prison authorities but he conceded that the public would only back community sentences as an alternative if they involved "significant punishment".
    Last week, a damning report by the Probation Service revealed that some burglars and robbers are being taught costume-making and furniture restoration as part of their "punishment" under community sentences. However, the Home Office forcefully rejected Lord Phillips's criticism of its drug rehabilitation programmes and insisted they were "delivering tangible benefits to communities across the country".
    In a statement issued in response to his interview, a spokesman said: "Record numbers of drug misusers are entering treatment, often through self-referral or GPs' surgeries, more quickly than ever before and are staying the course. Crime is falling, and falling fastest in intensive Drug Intervention Programme areas. Overall the strategy is well ahead of target."
    Turning to Lord Phillips's comments on the use of prison sentences, the spokesman added: "The Government believes that prison should be reserved for serious, dangerous, and seriously persistent offenders.
    "For other less serious offenders, tough community-based sentences can be more effective in preventing reoffending and can include a wide range of requirements, including unpaid work, drug treatment and curfews."
    However, Lord Woolf said ministers needed to look at developing credible community sentences to ease the pressure on prisons.
    "I have never been against long sentences as such. What I am against is the misuse of prison," he said. "The biggest impediment to having a successful prison system is an overcrowded prison. "The answer is to persuade the public that really effective penalties can be served in the community, that there are ways in which offenders can be made to repay the public for the offence that they have committed that are much more effective.
    "That is where we have failed so far. We have not properly resourced them."
    The Conservatives said Lord Phillips was right to highlight the problems caused by drug addicts. David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: "There is no doubt that the failure of the Government's drugs programme increases reoffending, particularly in conjunction with the current chaos and overcrowding in our prisons."
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