The League maintains an interest in reforms, not only in the penal system itself but in the wider criminal justice system in Scotland. It is particularly interested in:
- rehabilitation of offenders and the effectiveness of interventions
- improving prison regimes
- relationships between drug and alcohol abuse and crime
- treatment of young people in the criminal justice system
- early intervention and prevention
- reducing the unnecessary use of imprisonment
- links between poverty and crime.
The Howard League Scotland believes that it is time for criminal justice policy and systems to take a different direction, a direction with much more reliance on effective community approaches to reducing crime and dealing with criminality. A direction with much greater chance of success in reducing crime. A direction that has already been successfully taken by many of our Northern European colleagues.
Whilst still committed to Penal Reform — the improvement of Prison conditions and the promotion of rehabilitation — the Howard League Scotland is convinced that a steady reduction in the numbers of people committed to prison is essential and achievable. Howard League Scotland members have extensive experience across all aspects of the criminal justice system in Scotland. They have no rosy-eyed view either of the effects of crime nor of the nature of criminality, even in its most drastic forms. HLS shares these views with many others, not just in Scotland but across the UK. In pursuit of these aims we work closely with our sister organisation — the Howard League for England and Wales.
HLS does not represent individuals nor provide services, nor does it plan to. It is a fully independent body, representing an enormous amount of experience and active engagement — with members (including Committee members) at all stages of careers. It seeks to draw from the wisdom of this experience and engagement to promote realisable goals for Scotland’s criminal justice system and help promote effective pathways to achieving those goals — which include a sustained reversal of the increase in prison numbers.
Confidence in our capacity as a society to successfully tackle these issues is crucial. Despite many great — indeed inspirational — initiatives in Scotland it is easy for public policy to be put in defensive positions and almost for a degree of pessimism to prevail — a concern that all or most initiatives will fail. There is no basis for this; indeed there is every reason to consider not only that the decade long increases in prison numbers can be reversed but to have confidence that this will reduce crime and provide more effective responses to criminality.
Scotland is uniquely well placed to find, more enlightened and effective ways of reducing and dealing with crime.
If you want to keep abreast of news on Criminal Justice issues in Scotland see the excellent site at: www.cjscotland.org.uk
If you would like to comment on any of these issues, please leave a message on our guestbook or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org