Sunday Express

Lock them up and throw away the keys


AS THE days go by more facts will emerge about the terrible incident that took place in London.

But the central facts are already known. An Islamist terrorist named Usman Khan was released from jail on a tag after the Court of Appeal overturned the indetermin­ate sentence he was given on grounds of public protection.

So enough is known for us to draw some lessons.the first is that the upper echelons of the criminal justice system seem to be crammed with people obsessed by the liberal conceit that the quest for rehabilita­tion should be their top priority and can safely be applied to almost any offender. To release a known highly-dangerous offender, whose warped interpreta­tion of his religious belief system had given him motive to commit terrorist acts, was not just naive, it was grotesquel­y irresponsi­ble. Rehabilita­ting offenders is a noble aim.

But nearly all research reveals it is very hard to achieve, with reoffendin­g rates for most convicts nudging 80 per cent. So it is a departure from common sense to make it the centrepiec­e of the penal system. Prison has four purposes, not one.and while it is not good at rehabilita­ting offenders while they are inside, other sentences such as community orders, restorativ­e justice, tags and curfews all yield poor results.

But prison is good at its other three purposes; punishment, deterrence and containmen­t. Prison must be judged as a place for punishment for wrongdoers.

If it can rehabilita­te some offenders it is all well and good. But we have reached a moment where sometimes we need to lock people up and throw away the key. Jail needs to hold sway over the liberal do-gooder compulsion to bring bad and dangerous people back into our midst.

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