Many criminals would be better off being punished in public, than sent to prison, says the Anglican Bishop for prisons.
The Rt Rev James Jones, The Bishop of Liverpool said that 'community payback schemes' where criminals carry out community service in public places could be a better solution than prison for some offenders, and act as a deterrent for others.
Bishop Jones who became Bishop of Liverpool in 1998 having been Bishop of Hull since 1994, spent time in three prisons, Forest Bank in Manchester, High Down in Surrey, and HMP Liverpool for a forthcoming series on BBC Radio 4 called 'The Bishop And The Prisoner'.
A regular contributor to the BBC's Thought For The Day, he told the Radio Times that it was time to question whether prisons should be "warehouses to store the incorrigible" or "greenhouses to restore the redeemable".
"It punishes and it protects the rest of society from those who are locked up," he said.
"But that is not enough ... If you stop at anger, neither the victim nor society is well served. There's a percentage of prisoners that need to be in prison to protect the public, but a large number could be dealt with in community payback schemes.
"They lose their leisure time. They have to wear jackets to show they're doing community payback so people in the local community, who are fearful of crime, can see they're being punished.
"And it's a deterrent for other people who wouldn't like to be seen in that position."
Over the last sixteen years Bishop Jones has been deeply involved in Urban Regeneration. For four years he chaired the New Deal for Communities programme in Liverpool, and has championed community-led regeneration in lectures, articles and broadcasts.
He has written a number of books including ‘Jesus and the Earth’ (SPCK 2003) which looks at the relationship between Christianity and the environment.
January 10th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross