Breda O’Brien in the Irish Times makes the case for shifting focus from policies which favour punishment to those which favour prevention. There is also an interesting perspective on mandatory sentencing for drugs here. O’Brien points out:
When something is not working, it is insanity to try and have more of it. Take drugs offences. We have a policy of mandatory 10-year sentences for possession with intent to supply, so our prisons are filling up with relatively low-level operatives.
We need to get beyond the dichotomy of being perceived to be either tough on crime, and therefore in favour of more prison, or soft on crime, and in favour of less prison. It is not that simple, because prison does not help to reduce crime.
In relation to drugs, we need to look at the family dysfunction, poverty and lack of education that leads some people to substance abuse, not to mention the spiritual emptiness and hedonism of others who abuse. But not only do we not have a coherent crime policy, we fail again and again to see the links between social policy and crime policy.
It’s rare enough we see this kind of analysis. For more see here.