Offenders prefer short stays in prison to community sentences because they are easier to complete, according to prison reform campaigners. A study also found that some offenders said they preferred short sentences in prison because it was like being at school and they could meet with “people who are like me”.
Homeless offenders liked to use short prison terms to ensure they had a roof over their heads in winter. The report from the Howard League for Penal Reform No Winners will raise concerns about whether prison is offering any real deterrent to short term offenders.
It found that “for some men their quality of life was better in prison than it was the community”, although for most it was “boring, leading to disillusionment and demotivation”. Frances Crook, director of the Howard League, said the report showed that short term sentences were a "soft option" compared with community terms.
David Charlton regularly enjoys the home comforts of Strangeways prison in Manchester. NSFW.
She said: “Spending all day lounging on a cell bunk, particularly for those on short sentences, is the real ‘soft’ option. The report demonstrated that many criminals were not afraid of prison, and were able to treat it as a break from their chaotic lives.