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'Value for Money' Review of Sentencing Options

Call for 'Value for Money' Review of Sentencing Options

'Rethinking Crime and Punishment' has called for a 'value for money' review of sentencing options.

"The new government is committed to ensure that "public spending is scrutinized to ensure it is deployed to good effect." There is already talk of public sector baseline reviews of expenditure, and a commitment to 'value for money' said Project Director, Kim Workman . Spending on criminal justice sentencing options should not be exempt. A well constructed 'value for money' review should inform government about "what works", what is the most effective and efficient sentence, what represents the best deal for taxpayers, and most importantly, what it needs to do to reduce risk and harm to victims. "

"A recent UK 'value for money' review analysed various sentencing interventions, and their 'value for money'. It analysed each intervention and estimated:

(a) Whether re-offending had been reduced;
(b) How much the reduction in re-offending saved the taxpayer, (including costs of responding to and investigating crime, the costs of bringing offenders to trial, of punishing offenders, and treating injuries.)
(c) How much it saved the victim (in property damaged or stolen, and the cost of pain and suffering

Imprisonment Does Not Give Value for Money

The study showed that for some types of offender alternative interventions can be more effective at reducing re-offending, and better value for money, than basic prison sentences.

Community based sentences provide best value for money

Using evidence from the selected studies, the following adult community-based interventions have been shown to be more effective at reducing re-offending than prison:
- Residential drug treatment
- Surveillance
- Surveillance with drug treatment.

Youth Interventions

The following youth interventions were shown to reduce the chances of re-offending compared with prison:
- A community programme with aftercare and surveillance
- Community supervision and victim reparation.

Where Prison is Unavoidable

When a prison sentence is considered unavoidable, such as for reasons of public protection or punishment for serious or violent crimes, the following adult enhanced prison sentences have been shown to be more effective than a prison sentence alone:
- Prison with behavioural intervention
- Prison with educational or vocational intervention
- Prison with sex-offender treatment
- Prison with drug treatment.


"A "value for money" review would be a useful basis on which to construct a comprehensive criminal justice strategy."


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