Don't Send Thieves To Prison, Says Law Expert

Thieves and fraudsters should be spared jail and punished with fines and community sentences instead, a legal expert has said. Law professor Andrew Ashworth believes imprisonment for "pure property offences", including those who continually commit such crimes, is disproportionate. He said the focus should be on making sure perpetrators make amends and that victims are compensated - which he argued was less likely from someone behind bars with little or no income. Prison, as the UK's most severe punishment, should be reserved for the most serious crimes only including those of a violent, threatening or sexual nature, he said. His comments are in a pamphlet titled What If Imprisonment Were Abolished For Property Offences? which has been released by the Howard League for Penal Reform which plans to distribute it to every magistrates' court in England and Wales in a bid to spark a debate on sentencing issues.