Firstly the spin seems to suggest that the reason that prisons are full is that more criminals are being caught and locked up. Not so. The average number of convictions is pretty constant at 1.75M/annum. The difference now against 10 years ago is that magistrates used to use a custodial sentence in 25% of cases - now they lock up 61% of offenders. Remember that magistrates deal with "minor" cases, theft of less than £1,000 for example.
Longer sentences are a greater deterrent. Not so. If prison were any sort of deterrent they wouldn't be full! The UK locks up more people per head of population than any other country in Europe. The chances of someone who serves a sentence of 3 months or less reoffending is 96% - so that works then doesn't it?
Prison places are at a premium and so they are only used to detain those who are a danger to society - people like Lindis Percy. She's 64 and this criminal mastermind is in Low Newton Jail on Co Durham, we're being protected from a woman who failed to pay a fine after being convicted of a breach of the peace at a protest outside a US base in Yorkshire. And today there was news that a man who should have been released and repatriated is still in jail because the home office hasn't applied for a copy of his birth certificate from his country of origin so that he can be resettled.
Cheap jibes? Not really addressing the main issues?
This government was elected on a platform about being tough on crime, etc, but they've singularly failed to plan for the effects of increasing sentences. A by-product of the current overcrowding is that education is being restricted in some prisons because of security fears. Rather than dealing with the causes of crime Tony's cronies have really just tried to lock up more people for longer as a sop to the law and order brigade. This serves only to ensure that we are banging up people with mental illnesses and real medical reasons not to be in jail and it's easy to keep building more cells rather than actually looking at how to reduce crime.