Johann Hari’s recent article in the Independent focuses on the ‘credit crunch’ and crime, in the UK. He states that ‘[i]t is an iron law of sociology that when the economy falls, crime spikes.’ However, Hari is keen to put forward three ideas for tackling crime. In brief these are:
• Move all mentally ill prisoners to hospital where they can be treated appropriately
• Stop trying to enforce a policy of abstinence for users of illegal drugs
• Make rehabilitation the primary aim of prison.
Although, Hari links these suggested reforms to the current recession, he does not make clear how such policies would stop crime increasing. Instead the focus appears to be on those already in the criminal justice system. He also fails to explain where the political will and financial resources are likely to be found.
However, while many may agree with some, if not all of Hari’s suggestion it seems unlikely they will be accepted by the current government, who judging by their track record prefer to take a more punitive approach to crime.