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20 How. J. Penology & Crime Prevention 1 (1981)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj20 and id is 1 raw text is: 









The Howard Journal Volume XX 1981, pp. 1-5


League Leader

(A column  of individual comments on current issues contributed by the
Director of the Howard  League for Penal Reform,  by members  of the
Council of the League, or by the Editors of the Howard Journal.)

Pulling Children in Two Directions
  The  White Paper  Young Offenders (Home  Office and others 1980) is
like a  troika, skidding behind  three horses which  are  pulling in
different directions. The Home   Office and  Magistrates' Association
apparently believe that something is achieved by removing young people
from home.  At intervals the third horse, the Department of Health and
Social Security (D.H.S.S.),  gives a tug  in the  other direction by
affirming the Government's  commitment   to non-custodial penalties
(para. 7). On the cover the Welsh  Office is mentioned as co-author,
but there is no hint that it has any independent ideas for dealing with
young offenders in the Principality.
  For young  adults (aged from 17 to 20) the White Paper proposes free
market  principles to govern sentencing, in place of section 3 of the
Criminal  Justice Act  1961  which  required courts  to send  young
offenders to borstal in almost all cases where an  adult would have
received  a  sentence  of  between   six months   and   three  years
imprisonment.  The  concept  of borstal training is abolished, to be
replaced by  youth custody.  Training will be guaranteed  only for
those serving less than 18 months, and even this may be reduced if the
courts  imprison  too many   young   people.  Most  young   adults
sentenced to between three weeks and four months would have to go to
detention centres - which some might have regarded as a restriction of
the powers of the courts.
  The  effect would probably be to increase numbers  in custody, but
the scale is uncertain: of those at present serving about eight months in
borstal, some would serve longer, but for others sentences down to four
months  will be possible, minus one-third remission, minus any  time
spent remanded  in custody. The White Paper is certainly not, however,
a plan to reduce the use of custody. In an attempt to forestall criticism
it claims that: The  Government   is doing  as much  as  possible to
encourage  the development of non-custodial facilities (para. 3), but
there is no sign of any new  thinking in that direction. Home Office
ministers do not appear to have  read the Swedish report Supervision
Orders (Sweden  1977) nor to have inquired how it is working since its
proposals were introduced on 1 January 1980; nor have they made any
move  towards  reallocating funds to probation on condition that the
prison population was reduced below  the predicted level, as has been
done for some time in California (Smith 1971).


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