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34 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (1995)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj34 and id is 1 raw text is: 

@  Basil Blackwell Ltd. 1995, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 I]F, UK
and 238 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA
The Howard Journal Vol 34 No 1. Feb 95
ISSN 0265-5527

             Community Alternatives


                        KATH MIDDLETON
                 Senior Lecturer, Department of Legal Studies,
                       University of Central Lancashire

Abstract: Beginning in 1988 government policy as regards incarceration of offenders appeared to
move away from custody towards punishment in the community. This piece of research examines
two community initiatives which purport to provide viable alternatives to custody which could be
utilised by the courts in place of a prison sentence. The work describes and compares a community
project based in Dumbarton, which is administered and partially financed by Save The Children
Fund in partnership with Strathclyde region social work department; with an initiative in
Middlesbrough which is administered by probation officers and forms part of the statutory
resource unit for the area of Cleveland. The paper examines the aims of such projects, the
programmes they have adopted and their outcomes. It is suggested that the Home Secretary
should reconsider such 'alternatives'.

With  the publication of Punishment, Custody and the Community (Home Office
1988)  it became   evident that  the government   intended  to control the
number   of prison inmates through legislation which would  make  it harder
for the sentencers  to impose a  custodial sentence. The  Criminal Justice
Act  1991 replaced 'alternatives to custody' with the concept of 'community
sentences', and  sections 1 and  2 introduces criteria which must  be met
before a custodial sentence can  be awarded.  The initial command   papers
prior to the Bill being drafted (Home Office 1988, 1990) provide reasoned
arguments   as  to why  community penalties are preferable to custody.
However, only months after implementation of the 1991 Act, the
government were forced to amend certain sections which they did by
inserting  the changes  into  the 1993  Criminal  Justice Act.  One   such
amendment was to section 29. The original drafting of this section
appeared   to  require  the courts  to  disregard  an  offender's previous
convictions  when   passing  sentence.  Concern  to  this effect had  been
expressed  by the Magistrates' Association  and some  Lay magistrates had
resigned  in protest. The 1993  Act repealed section 29 and  a new,  much
more   loosely worded  provision is substituted (Wasik  and Taylor  1994).
The   controversy  surrounding  the issue of sentencing,  appears  to have
caused   the government to re-think their policy of community based
penalties.  At  the Conservative   Party  conference  in  1993  the Home
Secretary, Michael  Howard   introduced  a 27 point plan to combat  crime.


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