Non-custodial sentences: are they getting away with it

Prior, Deborah (2010) Non-custodial sentences: are they getting away with it. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The recent move by the current conservative Government towards the increased use of non-custodial sentencing has highlighted the need for more research about how such sentences are viewed both by those working within the criminal justice system and the wider public. The strategy of making non-custodial sentences tougher for offenders by means such as enforcement in order to cement their credibility with the public and sentencers is open to wide debate and raises questions about the extent to which more punitive non-custodial sentences are desired and the methods by which opinions on sentences are obtained. Indeed while it is important for Government to have policies which are favoured by the majority of the public this research aims to show that the punitive strategy with regard to non-custodial sentences is misguided and that there are other ways to improve confidence which are not focused on punitiveness. Moreover, this research aims to highlight the need for more innovation by the Government in the way the public and sentencers are informed and involved in probation which allow for greater understanding of the work of probation, non-custodial sentences, rehabilitation and desistance.

    The different forms of media will be analyzed in terms of how non-custodial sentences are portrayed, reported on and the impact on public and sentencer opinion and the Government agenda. This research aims to show that large parts of the media takes a reductionist approach when reporting on non-custodial sentences and uses phrases like 'soft options' and 'getting away with it' which imply sentences should be tough. This research will then examine the possible implications of a tougher approach in terms of the goals of public protection, reducing prison numbers, rehabilitation and desistance. A review of the literature will examine various themes in order to provide an in depth understanding of the issues and different perspectives on non-custodial sentences. The literature on compliance will be examined in order to better understand whether making sentences tougher is the best way to ensure compliance. This is linked to desistance from crime where various theories and solutions will be analyzed.

    This research will conclude that findings do not support the view that non-custodial sentences are considered too lenient and that the Government's continued focus on making non-custodial sentences more difficult for offenders is not supported by public opinion and can be detrimental to rehabilitation, reducing the numbers in custody and public protection and desistance from crime.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2011 11:18
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:20

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