How to reduce the number of people in prison

Reduce the number of things which you define as crimes for which you might people in prison of course.

Dumbass.

You know, like legalising drugsn\’stuff.

16 thoughts on “How to reduce the number of people in prison”

  1. The Pedant-General

    “You know, like legalising drugsn’stuff.”

    Very few people (I’m prepared to be corrected on this though) are jailed for possession.

    What they are – and very rightly should be – jailed for is breaking things and nicking stuff to feed their habit.

    Legalise drugs all you want, but give me the quid pro quo – no sfot touch for people doing horrid things because they were on drugs or wanted to be on drugs.

  2. Portugal legalised most drugs a few years back and saw a marked decline in (non-drug taking) crime. Addicts stopped mugging and breaking into property and actually found other ways to fund their habit.

    Other benefits were more police time for tackling violent crime plus the courts were freed up to deal with it as well. Jail space was freed up to incarcerate those who need tobe kept off the streets. Lower property and personal insurance rates plus rising property prices in former drug “hot spots”. Tax revenue was generated from the now legal drugs, new businesses were set up as well.

    Most fun of all – the organised crime gangs were shafted as the bulk of their drug related income was wiped out overnight!!

    There really is no downside. It was a great success – but it needs politicians with cojones to make it happen, something sadly lacking here.

    Tim adds: guess where I live?

  3. I don’t think Portugal is remotely comparable to the UK.
    Legalise drugs IF you abolish the NHS and slash welfare, so it becomes a real choice.

  4. You could always replace limp-wristed short jail sentences by The Birch and a day in the stocks. Cheap, and cheerful for the spectators.

  5. no sfot touch for people doing horrid things because they were on drugs or wanted to be on drugs.

    This is already the case – sentencing guidelines in E&W don’t count drug use as a mitigating factor.

    The perception that things are otherwise is fuelled by the occasional departure from the law and guidelines by an idiot magistrate or judge, as filtered through the tabloid amplifier…

    I don’t think Portugal is remotely comparable to the UK. Legalise drugs IF you abolish the NHS and slash welfare, so it becomes a real choice.

    Erm, you know that Portugal has a welfare state and national healthcare, right?

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Portugal has not legalised drugs as such, just decriminalised possession of small amounts. What is more such possession gets you a mandatory visit to a Commissions for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction (Comissões para a Dissuasão da Toxicodependência – CDTs). Which has a range of penalties up its sleeves – “The CDTs use targeted responses to drug users, including sanctions such as community service, fines, suspension of professional licences and bans on attending designated places.” In Britain these penalties are usually imposed by Courts, not by Administrative Tribunals sitting without juries or appeals.

    So by all means, let’s take drug users out of the criminal justice system for mere possession and send them to a much cheaper system which can and does impose fines, ASBO-like bans and all the usual stuff but without any of the expensive protections of the law.

    What we will get is not a reduction in the amount of crime as such, but a change in the way we define it. Portugal chooses to use small, cheap administrative punishments to inflict what British Courts usually won’t. They don’t call it crime, but it still is.

    And don’t be too quick to draw conclusions from Portugal’s experience. This only started in 2001 – right after the Taliban’s ban on heroin production. A world heroin drought followed and the number of addicts dropped everywhere.

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    JohnRS – “Portugal legalised most drugs a few years back and saw a marked decline in (non-drug taking) crime. Addicts stopped mugging and breaking into property and actually found other ways to fund their habit.”

    Excuse me but no they did not legalise drugs. They just sent users to a tribunal not to a court. Decriminalisation at best. Not even that. I know of no evidence that crime dropped. More over it does not seem to have done so:

    http://www.idpc.net/php-bin/documents/BFDPP_BP_14_EffectsOfDecriminalisation_EN.pdf.pdf

    “Nevertheless, the evaluation of the national strategy noted that the number of crimes that were “linked strongly to drugs5” rose by 9% between 1999 and 2003 (Tavares et al. 2005).”

    Nor is there a single sane reason why it should. Drugs are still illegal. They are still expensive. Users still have to pay for it somehow. Why would they stop robbing people to do so?

    “Other benefits were more police time for tackling violent crime plus the courts were freed up to deal with it as well.”

    Well no. The police are still arresting people for possession. They are just sent to CDTs not to the Courts. Court time has been freed up but not police time.

    “Tax revenue was generated from the now legal drugs, new businesses were set up as well.”

    Sorry but in what alternative reality did this take place?

    “Most fun of all – the organised crime gangs were shafted as the bulk of their drug related income was wiped out overnight!!”

    Except it wasn’t. Drugs are still illegal. Those gangs are still being targeted – the police are actually getting better at doing so. Drug busts went up between 1999 and 2003. Why would their income be affected? Drugs, to repeat myself, are still illegal. So is trafficking.

    “There really is no downside. It was a great success – but it needs politicians with cojones to make it happen, something sadly lacking here.”

    Yes there is. Drug use has gone up. Exactly what you would expect. Heroin use has gone down but that is likely to be a result of this reform being introduced in 2001 just after the Taliban banned opium production. Marijuana use is up. Over all drug use is up.

    Table 1: Changes in lifetime prevalence of drug use among students aged 16-18 (Tavares et al. 2005)
    DRUG 1999 2003
    Any drug 12.3% 17.7%
    Cannabis 9.4% 15.1%
    Heroin 2.5% 1.8%

    Great. Getting on for a doubling of marijuana use. In just four years. Deaths from drugs down? Yes but the picture is mixed:

    Table 3: Changes in drug-related death*, 1999-2003 (Tavares et al. 2005)
    DRUG 1999 2003
    Opiates 350 98
    Other drugs 19 54
    Total 369 152

    See the increase in other drugs? Because of the heroin drought, users were probably moving to other safer drugs.

    So now we have to see the figures again after ten years. Want to bet drug use continues to rise?

  8. @ John B: Erm, you know that Portugal has a welfare state and national healthcare, right? 

    Yes, I do, but… so what? I wasn’t saying they didn’t; insofar as the point concerned Portugal it was to say that it is a much poorer, more rural country than the UK.It has some drug crime but not on the scale of Britain’s. Thus it is an apples and pears comparison.
    (The Portugese health and welfare systems, while national, are a good deal less benificent than the UK’s. In thw UK, people can decide to lie about all day taking heroin because the welfare system and the NHS will pick up after them in ways the Portugese addict can only dream of.)

    You’re wrong about drugs in mitigation,by the way. On a literal reading, sure, the guidelines are the guidelines. But sit in court and listen to the lawyers mitigate away and you’ll see that it’s not quite that simple.

    If you’re a recidivist up on a burglary, your drug troubles might allow you to walk out with a drug treatment order, which beats jail hands down.

  9. “This is already the case – sentencing guidelines in E&W don’t count drug use as a mitigating factor.

    The perception that things are otherwise is fuelled by the occasional departure from the law and guidelines by an idiot magistrate or judge, as filtered through the tabloid amplifier…”

    The authentic voice of the Left there, folks, articulating the Left’s belief that because something is written down in ‘guidelines’ this is how it goes in the real world.

    Barristers and solicitors mitigate all the time using drugs: spend a day in court instead of at your keyboard.

  10. “Excuse me but no they did not legalise drugs. They just sent users to a tribunal not to a court. Decriminalisation at best. Not even that. I know of no evidence that crime dropped. More over it does not seem to have done so:”

    Not quite. Actually you go to a mediacal centre first as they treat drug addiction as a medical rather than a criminal issue. Then admin punishment if you refuse the medical route.

    Either way they are preventing their prison/legal system being clogged up with folk who shouldn’t be there…which was the original point.

  11. john b: Here’s an idea. Instead of poncing about in hyperspace all your life, go and sit in an actual court and listen to the actual pleas in mitigation. You tool.

  12. So Much For Subtlety

    JohnRS – “Not quite. Actually you go to a mediacal centre first as they treat drug addiction as a medical rather than a criminal issue. Then admin punishment if you refuse the medical route.”

    Well actually, yes. Precisely what I said. Drugs are not legal. They are still illegal. They have simply redefined possession of small amounts as an administrative offense. British Courts will also send you for treatment and then some other non-punishment, and then some other before in the end, reluctantly, trying prison. The Portuguese simply get an Administrative tribunal to do the same thing.

    “Either way they are preventing their prison/legal system being clogged up with folk who shouldn’t be there…which was the original point.”

    Drug users break the law. People who break the law belong in prison. The Portuguese have not managed to prevent their system from being clogged. They have added to it. More people sitting in judgement. Sitting without any of the benefits of a real Court but imposing real punishments. We could speed up British Courts by sending thieves to administrative tribunals – no procedure, no appeals, no lawyers. It would be great! A pity about the lack of civil liberties.

  13. @interested: Fuck you and fuck the horse you rode in on. I’m going to take *what the law says* over *what some cunt says on the Internet*.

    Yes, of course defence lawyers try it on. Film at 11.

  14. But you *are* some cunt on the internet, John B – haven’t you noticed?

    The law says people should only drive at 30mph in a 30mph zone.

    ergo, John B: ‘People always drive at 30 in a 30.’

    The real world does not operate according to guidelines, or even laws, even in courts, but then leftist fuckwits like you always have liked a central plan.

    Sometimes it leads to millions starving in the Ukraine, other times it’s just blowhards sounding off.

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