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Martin Wright: We need restorative justice

May 9, 2009

In 1895, a British government committee on prisons, chaired by
Herbert Gladstone, the brother of the former prime minister, found the
following probabilities of a further prison sentence (paragraph

Number of Imprisonments     Probability of Further Prison Sentence
1 30%
2 48%
3 64%
4 71%
5 79%

A century later, the Home Office found that in the first quarter of
2005, the one-year re-offending rate was:

Previous Custodial Sentence One-Year Re-Offending
0 26.0%
1 43.0%
2 51.7%
3 57.0%
4 60.8%
5 62.7%
6-10 88.6%
11+ 78.3%

(Source:  e-mail from Home Office Statistics Department)

The data are not quite comparable, but the message is clear: Every
time a person is sent to prison, he or she becomes more likely to
re-offend.  Perhaps it is time we learnt this lesson.


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