Bishop Richard Moth, the lead Catholic Bishop for Prisons, today welcomed the comments of Prisons Minister Rory Stewart MP, who said that jail sentences of fewer than six months should be scrapped. The number of prisoners has doubled since the 1990s and around 60% of short term prisoners re-offend within one year of their release.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the Minister said that “very short” jail terms were “long enough to damage you and not long enough to heal you”. Mr Stewart said that such a move would create more space for education and workshops for prisoners.
His comments follow the recent publication by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of
Bishop Richard Moth said:
“I am delighted that the Government appears to be changing direction on this important issue. To maintain a prison population of 83,450 in an estate that was built for far fewer is unsustainable, unsafe, and ineffective. The Minister should be congratulated for listening and acting. While this move might not be politically popular, it is certainly the right thing to do.”
In a letter to Bishop Richard Moth, Rory Stewart MP acknowledged the Church’s significant work in prison chaplaincy. He also expressed interest in A Journey of Hope’s recommendations.
Bishop Richard and Rory Stewart MP will be meeting in the near future to discuss this further.
A Journey of Hope
A recently commissioned report by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to explore how sentencing policy in England and Wales can be reformed in order to create a safe, decent and rehabilitative prison estate.