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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Day jails - will they cut crime?

The UK government is considering jailing some repeat offenders at weekends or during normal working hours in England and Wales.

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, will tell a conference of probation workers today that too many people breach their community service orders. He says he wants to develop tougher sentences for people who repeatedly commit crimes such as assault, car theft or public order offences.

Do you think part-time jail will be a successful weapon in the fight against crime, or do you think it will over-burden a prison service that is already bursting at the seams? Tell us what you think about day jails. HAVE YOUR SAY

Is this a joke?

Derek O'Brien, Northern Ireland
Is this a joke? 9 to 5 jails for repeat offenders? Yes, well, I suppose they'll need somewhere to sleep after they've been up all night committing the crimes they've been sentenced for...
Derek O'Brien, Northern Ireland

9-5 sentencing - brilliant! It is a good, measured, well-considered response to the problem of the group who insist on causing harm and hurt to everyone else. The prison system is not working brilliantly, but a consistent withdrawal of freedom is a good way to affect these evil individuals. William Hague's response, to allow people to become law-breakers themselves, smacks of the militia-style gun politics of America, and we don't want that here.
Craig Beaumont, UK



The idea of day prisons seems more in tone with a holiday camp than a prison

Nik Beenham, Scotland
The idea of day prisons seems more in tone with a holiday camp than a prison. From my viewpoint this is hardly a punishment and more like a social club. Surely there are more constructive activities. I for one see the streets covered in litter every day, cemeteries in states of disrepair, and all the areas where the local council's budget falls short. "I have rights", I hear the convicted criminal scream, does that include the right to idle a prison sentence away at the taxpayers expense. I think not.
Nik Beenham, Scotland

It's all well and good in theory to lock up criminals in the day time, but what will they be doing while they're inside? What happens in the evening when they are free to steal cars and commit crimes until 9am the next morning? What about putting these criminals to work in the community in the day and look them up at night?
JC, Wales

The Prison Agency's pay policies have created a service of inexperience. Prison officers become more youthful by the year. Long-term commitment is lost and avenues on rehabilitation are impaired. The Prison Agency, certainly in London, is in crisis and overloaded.
Rank and File, UK

Let them out at night by all means. Just give me the legal freedom to shoot them if they burgle my house.
John R, UK



How about putting them to work 9-5 and locking them up 5-9? It's supposed to be a punishment not a luncheon club

Leon, English, US resident
Once again New Labour has broken its promises. "Tough on Crime" said the posters; "Tough on the Causes of Crime" read the mugs. So what has he done with the causes of crime? Given them their own social club where they can spend all day talking about crime, drinking tea with some nice digestives, discuss what crimes they'd like to commit, and then carry them out at night.
Michael Evans, England

How about putting them to work 9-5 and locking them up 5-9? It's supposed to be a punishment not a luncheon club. Any wages they are paid should be used to pay for prison expenses and/or reimbursement to their victims.
Leon, English, US resident

What's the point? If you lock people up during working hours, you just prevent them from making a living, thus throwing them on the dole, while leaving them free to raise Cain during the prime night-time drinking hours. It would make more sense to lock offenders up on weekends and holidays.
James Castro, USA

Most of us are living proof day jail works. Tied to my desk here at work, I simply can't find the time for crime.
Richard, UK



It's time we got Ann Widdecombe from the Tories to sort them out

Richard Butler, UK
We have now locked up criminals for umpteen years and it just has not worked. Tony Blair said Labour would be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. In reality they are just calling to lock up more people which does not work. What we should be doing is looking at the causes of crime and preventing them from taking place in the first place.
Carl Minns, England

The main reason for habitual offenders is that they have lost fear of the police and the prison system. The softy, softy approach by police while interviewing criminals due to human rights compulsions and relatively comfortable prison life have emboldened criminals. Perhaps Jack Straw should re-introduce the 19th century practice of deportation of habitual offenders to new penal colonies for life.
C. Anand, Madras, India

It's the last straw from Jack Straw. It's time we got Ann Widdecombe from the Tories to sort them out.
Richard Butler, UK

It is blatantly apparent that Jack Straw, along with many of his ministerial colleagues have become well and truly out of touch. Mr Straw obviously cannot relate to the deviousness and evil of many of our criminals nor to the feelings of the victims of crime.
James, UK



A major positive impact would result from locking up Jack Straw and the rest of the Cabinet during normal working hours

David de Vere Webb, UK
How could any police successfully fight crime in a society ruled by greed, competition and complacency? Such a society is a factory of criminals.
Christian Bodhi, UK

It must depend on the type of crime. For example, a major positive impact would result from locking up Jack Straw and the rest of the Cabinet during normal working hours.
David de Vere Webb, UK

The only solution is to bring in the boot camp which they use in the States.
Glenys, Wales, UK

Do you need somebody to clean your streets during the day? Or do you want a rested criminal who will be "visiting" some of you about 2am in the morning since he's wide-awake. Put 'em to work!
Vic, USA

I can see homeless people taking advantage of this new system. They rob people by night and then get a place to stay where they will be fed and catch a couple hours kip before they their 'shift' starts again. How convenient!
Sacha West, Canada

How can stopping someone from working possibly be a deterrent to them committing crime? We should be making prisons into businesses and make the inmates work. All of their earnings could then be used for running the prison. The harder they work, the better the conditions. I have to work, why shouldn't they? We are far too soft
Angela Severn-Morrell, England



I guess the British must be much more civilised than the rest of the world. 9 to 5 criminals, who would have thought?

Dave, USA
This is an outrage because recent surveys prove that 87% of crime occurs between 6pm and 6am. If this idea is accepted we will be inviting anarchy. Jack Straw must re-consider or resign
Shazad, England

Perhaps the best solution to lawlessness would be to legalise vigilante justice. If criminals knew that if they committed a crime and suffered horrible injuries (or even death) at the hands of those defending themselves and their neighbourhood most of them would think twice.
John S, UK

I guess the British must be much more civilised than the rest of the world. 9 to 5 criminals, who would have thought?
Dave, USA

Once more Jack Straw tries to appease the Daily Mail reader with half hearted plans, soundbites and only slightly diluted Tory thinking. Education, meaningful jobs and prospects will reduce theft and car crime.
Andrew, UK

Don't you think we pay enough taxes for these criminals? Put the money to some good use like cancer research.
Emma Smith, England

One option, which may be successful in a large number of cases, would be a work camp with some kind of vocational training, which may turn some of them into responsible citizens.
Colin Gillies, Netherlands

In the USA there is an entirely circular prison designed by an ex-con. The inmates hate it and it has a rehabilitation rate way over any other prison in the world. The secret? Because of the circular design all the inmates can see each other which means there is no privacy at all, ever, during their stay. Maybe we should take a look at this prison and use the example...
Paul Charters, England



The present system is a joke and criminals (especially young offenders) just laugh.

K Edwards, UK
It really isn't going to work. What we need is good clear statutory sentencing so that offenders know what they will get if they are caught and convicted. For example an automatic 5 years jail sentence for car theft. This way, maybe, those caught once will not re-offend. The present system is a joke and criminals (especially young offenders) just laugh.
K Edwards, UK

The proposal for so-called "Day Jails" is fatally flawed, for the reasons identified by other correspondents. What's really needed are realistic, punitive prison sentences for repeat offenders e.g. when someone with 5 prior convictions commits another burglary, jail him for 5 years. Then if he burgles again after he's released, jail him for 10 years. No more molly coddling. A "10 strikes and you're out" law would help e.g. when a burglar is convicted for the 10th time, he gets 10 years in prison. Eventually, most criminals would get the message. The key is to make repeat offenders much more afraid of the justice system. At present, they laugh at the courts.
Michael Franks, Kuwait (UK)



Does anyone think it would make the least difference to a criminal - of course not?

Russell Lloyd, UK
OK - this idea is the worst I have ever heard. Does anyone think it would make the least difference to a criminal - of course not? What about a 4 times and you are out rule? Commit 4 crimes over a predetermined level or 6 under a lower level (to reduce injustice) and if you have proven yourself a habitual criminal you get life. This isn't intended as punishment for the crime but simply to remove people from our society who are unable to be law abiding. Its harsh but no one would be able to say they couldn't see it coming. Also we should instigate compulsory drug dependency clinics to take ALL drug addicts and alcoholics off their drugs if they are convicted of a crime. (Of course this is all too expensive but wouldn't the UK be a nicer place to live?)
Russell Lloyd, UK

As a special constable, I regularly give my time free to help the police, and aid in the protection of society. I regularly meet people who are involved in assaults, car crime and public order offences. When do the majority of these offences occur? At night, alcohol fuelled in many cases. Part time jail would be a joke. Take for example people who break curfew's, in one case a person broke their curfew 6 times only to have exactly the same conditions imposed. And this is called "justice". Just another Labour gimmick I call it. Part time jail - what a joke.
Matt Bailey, UK



Full-time jails don't stop them, why should part-time ones?

Phil, UK
Full-time jails don't stop them, why should part-time ones?
Phil, UK

"Cheerio! Just off to the prison for a hard day in the slammer. I'll be home around six." Will these people get three meals? Perhaps an hour off for lunch too. Sheer and utter madness, but I'd rather live in a mad world than a dull one.
Daren, UK

Surely most burglaries occur at night. In which case it would make more sense to subject criminals to house arrest after sunset and before sunrise allowing them to get an education or work during the day. The 12-hour sentence could be made 24-hour if they offended during the day as well.
Miland Joshi, UK



A place where you are confined between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday and you get bossed around by people all day? That's called work isn't it?

Tony Moss, UK
It is a good idea to lock up those without jobs during the day. We were burgled during the day and many other cases of burglary take place during the day while the occupants are out at work. It would show the offenders what it is like to be locked into an office all day!
Roger Jackson, England

A place where you are confined between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday, and you get bossed around by people all day? That's called work isn't it?
Tony Moss, UK

What a ridiculous idea - imagine the networking opportunities for criminals in such environments. They would come out with a wealth of new crime knowlege and contacts!!
Andrea, England



Wonderful. Now criminals will able to meet and socialise all day to concoct the crimes that they can undertake under cover of night

Mark, UK
Electronically tag them, then put them in supervised work gangs to clean up our towns, cities, and main roads - the areas that never seem to get cleaned up! Make them do something useful for society during the duration of their sentence.
Phil W, UK

Wonderful. Now criminals will be able to meet and socialise all day to concoct the crimes that they can undertake under cover of night.
Mark, UK

I believe the Swedes have used this method successfully for many years. However, they let you work all week and stick you in jail at the weekend. That way, you can still maintain contact with your family and support them.
Gerry, Scotland



Whilst Jack Straw has good intentions in keeping thieves away from my house whilst I am at work, there are plenty more to take their place

Philip Levy, UK
In prison from 9 to 5? That's what most of us non-criminals feel we are experiencing already!
Jonathan Kelk, England

I lost my faith in the judicial system months ago when the police refused to investigate an assault on my girlfriend despite witnesses and a recovered weapon. Whilst Jack Straw has good intentions in keeping thieves away from my house whilst I am at work, there are plenty more to take their place. My solution is lovely Lenny, a smashing Doberman who loves burglars and muggers. Believe me, he is the most effective deterrent against crime!!
Philip Levy, UK

If part-time prison is to be any deterrent at all, it should rather be from 9pm to 5am so that prisoners can get a good night's sleep and have a shower and a bowl of porridge to prepare for the working day.
Melody Forrest, England



Jack Straw must have lost the plot if he thinks it's a good idea to let serial muggers out at 5pm every day to catch us on our way home!

Sean Stack, France
Duh! Why jail them during daylight working hours when you could jail them at night? Then those who have jobs can keep them (and pay their taxes), offenders lose their leisure time (surely more of a punishment), and the large proportion of offenders convicted for burglary and street crime are off the streets during their own less orthodox "working hours".
Jack Straw must have lost the plot if he thinks it's a good idea to let serial muggers out at 5pm every day to catch us on our way home!
Sean Stack, France



Investment should instead be used to give ex-jailbirds prospects for their future

Jose Fernandez, Netherlands
I think this idea is good in principle, aiming at keeping people on the "straight and narrow". I just wonder whether the investment should instead be used to give ex-jailbirds prospects for their future, ensuring their "normal" behaviour in the future.
In the Netherlands there is a program which tries to "re-connect" ex-inmates to society by having their "law-abiding" friends keep an eye on them, subsidise ex-inmates so that they can buy a house and be "tied" to normal life through mortgages etc.
Jose Fernandez, Netherlands

While this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, would a few hours a day in jail really act as a deterrent, or a punishment for that matter. Surely we should be looking to deal custodial sentences to repeat offenders, and perhaps very long ones if this fails to solve the problem.
Des Whittall, England



Wouldn't it be more effective to let people do a job of work in the day then lock them safely away overnight?

Rita Gallard, UK
What's the point in a 9-5 scheme? Is this when most crimes are committed or something? What are the criminals going to do from 5pm-9am? Sit at home and watch TV? They will have been cooped up in a cell for the day and will have the natural urge to be out and about, most likely committing offences. A criminal is a criminal. It makes me wonder whether the people who make these absurd rules i.e. the 9-5 scheme, have actually been burgled or had property vandalised themselves. If they had, then I'm sure they would want the culprits off the streets for good.
Jeff, UK

This is a crack pot idea is purely to save costs. Prisoners will presumably be fed regularly between nine and five and given access to leisure facilities before being freed to return to their loved one in the evening. It could be quite attractive to some. The downside is that more and more people become unemployable and are then left to rely on a life of crime. The experience of the USA which has one of largest growing prison populations in the western world, including the death penalty in many states, indicates that prison is no deterrent to crime. We must look more imaginatively at the causes of crime.
John Nevitt, UK

Wouldn't it be more effective to let people do a job of work in the day then lock them safely away overnight?
Rita Gallard, UK

People should go to jail for punishment not rehabilitation. The short sharp shock treatment brought in by the Tories was good except for the people involved in carrying it out. Prisoners who do not do as they are told should be beaten (so it hurts).
Graham, England

So, we feed them and give them a bed for the day at tax payers expense so that they can build up their strength for the busy night of crime ahead????!!!!!
Neil, UK

A Labour solution. Do they not realise that these yobs spend most of the day in bed and commit crime at night.
M.McGrath, England


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16 May 00 | UK Politics
'Day prison' plan for delinquents
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