Rob Allen, director of the International Centre for Prison Studies, Kings College, is one of the key champions of Justice Reinvestment in the UK. In 2007, Rob Allen and Vivien Stern of the International Centre for Prison Studies, Kings College, published research based on a two-year study exploring the relevance for the UK of an American approach pioneered by the George Soros Open Society Institute.
Analysing data from Gateshead in the North East of England, their report found that people who go to prison are predominantly drawn from the most deprived neighbourhoods. They argue that local authorities are best placed to coordinate the provision of housing, education, work and health care which are key to their rehabilitation.
Download their report: Justice Reinvestment - A New Approach to Crime and Justice (2007)
Justice Reinvestment: A New Approach to Crime and Justice?
In a later article of the same name, Allen criticises Lord Carter’s report ‘Securing the Future’ for not looking more widely and systematically at international evidence about the use and practice of imprisonment. He notes the large increases in prison populations in other developed countries since 1995 but the data he gives for seven countries includes only one — New Zealand — where the percentage rise is greater than in England and Wales. The rest of his report has nothing to say about countries such as France whose prison population grew by just one percent during the period, or Canada where it fell by 11 per cent…….
. “Justice Reinvestment: A New Approach to Crime and Justice?”
R. Allen (2008)
Cutting Crime – the Case for Justice Reinvestment
Over the next two years, the justice reinvestment concept gained traction in the UK, culminating in an inquiry by the House of Commons Justice Committee. At the beginning of the report, entitled “Cutting Crime – the Case for Justice Reinvestment” the Department explains why such an inquiry was necessary:
First, the criminal justice system is a complex network of agencies with substantial public funding operating under increasing pressure but the different parts of the system do not seem to be pursuing the same goals or making cogent contributions to an agreed overarching purpose.
Secondly, the Government’s main answer to the current overcrowding of prisons and the predicted rise in the prison population—already at a record high—is to provide more prison places rather than to seek to address the root causes of this seemingly incessant growth. These causes include: a toxic cocktail of sensationalised or inaccurate reporting of difficult cases by the media; relatively punitive overall public opinion (compared to much of the EU); a self-defeating over-politicisation of criminal justice policy since the late 1980s and the responsiveness to all these factors of the sentencing framework and sentencers.
Thirdly, it is clear that authorities and agencies outside the criminal justice system—with relevant objectives, remits and funding—could take more effective action to reduce both the number of people entering the criminal justice system in the first place and the likelihood of re-entry after serving a sentence. So questions arise as to whether the existing allocation of attention, energy and funding is the right one.
“Justice reinvestment” approaches offer potential solutions to these challeges. By targetting resources geographically, they aim to address the roots causes of crime - keeping more people out of the criminal justice system and prison in particular.
Cutting Crime – the Case for Justice Reinvestment (2010)
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Read about Justice Reinvestment in Scotland