Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tories Prepared to Lead UK Away from Mass Incarceration

The new UK Justice Minister, veteran Conservative politician Ken Clarke is roiling British politics by suggesting openly that the UK's massive increase in imprisonment over the last decade and a half is not, I repeat, is not, the main reason for drops in crime experienced there. According to the Guardian newspaper (read it here), Clarke said:

There is and never has been, in my opinion, any direct correlation between spiralling growth in the prison population and a fall in crime," he said. "Crime fell throughout most of the western world in the 1990s. Crime fell in countries that had, and still have, far lower rates of imprisonment than ours.

"Crime has fallen in Britain throughout a period of both rising prison populations and throughout the same period of economic growth, with strong employment levels and rising living standards."

I've argued for a long time that governing through crime was not a righwing agenda, but a direction that both left and right exploited at the cost of their own values. With New Labour under Blair and Brown having supported a major prison expansion, the timing is perfect for the Tories to lead a change in direction, although it contradicts the penal policies pursued by the last Tory government in the 1990s.

Attention Meg Whitman (and Jerry Brown), you may be the right leader to take California out of mass incarceration!

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