Even when she\’s right she can\’t get it right:
Howard\’s final act was to put US-style two-strikes-and-you\’re-out sentencing on to the statute book for Labour to implement. (In the US a man went to jail for stealing a slice of pizza.)
Yes, the US style two strikes and you\’re out system is indeed insane.Yes indeed, one of the first people sentenced under it in California did go to prison for stealing a slice of pizza. But that\’s not the reason that it\’s insane. He went to prison for life, with no possibility of parole. No, we don\’t have a system like that, we simply don\’t, and your wittering about how awful Howard was will not make it so.
Consider the disastrous message here. This proclaims the government doesn\’t expect any of its social programmes to have any good impact on crime. On the contrary, things will get worse. The 10,500 extra young men imprisoned in 2014 will be Labour\’s children, arrived in school in 1997. Young offenders will have been born under Labour and yet more not fewer of them will "need" to be locked away than under the Tories.
So much for Labour\’s improving schools, extended school activities, expanded youth services, the Yips (youth inclusion programme) designed to catch children at risk before they offend, or a score of other acronyms from Labour\’s neighbourhood programmes. All wasted, all dust?
Well, could be, yes. Its certainly possible that these things do not in fact reduce crime.
Listen to ministers complain that crime has fallen by 40%, including violent crime, yet voters refuse to believe it. But who is to blame for that? Of course people think crime must be rising when prisons are bursting as never before.
There\’s a possible alternative explanation of course. One that most economists would sign on to. As more people are being jailed for longer, the price of committing a crime has gone up so that there are fewer people willing to pay that price.
Frankly, if ministers bothered to study their own departments\’ recent work it would be a good start. Visiting one minister the other day, just as he launched a vital new policy, neither he nor his special advisers had ever heard of a very expensive and highly successful pilot scheme his predecessor had just completed as he left. When government\’s own memory is goldfish short, what hope for deeper history?
Quite. When politicians\’ horizons are only to the next election, (if that long) then how are we to expect any rational long term choices to be made by them? And thus collapses the Statist project.
But Labour has taken us backwards, feeding punitive sentiment instead of persuading by proving what works. Douglas Hurd cut the prison population in the higher-crime Thatcher era: Labour has hugely inflated it.
She see the correlation but insists that it cannot be causality. High crime, low prison numbers, high prison numbers, lower crime. Seriously now, how dim do you have to be to refuse to even consider the thought that perhaps banging people up in prison reduces crime?