Do long jail sentences stop crime? We ask the expert

Penelope Gibbs, former magistrate and founder of Transform Justice, on whether harsher sentences are effective

Until recently, the subject of criminal punishment hasn’t been a massive public concern for the public (putting aside that small demographic committed to a “hang ’em all!” approach). But in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder, calls for misogyny to become a hate crime have gone from a whisper to a roar. That change would give judges the power to increase sentences when misogyny was found to be an aggravating factor in a crime. But would harsher sentences do much to stop such crimes happening? I asked Penelope Gibbs, former magistrate and founder of Transform Justice, a charity campaigning for a more effective justice system.

Did you hear about the Thai fraudster who was sentenced to jail for more than 13,000 years? I guess they needed a number to describe ‘throwing away the key’. Are long sentences becoming more common?
I don’t know about across the world, but I can tell you that in England and Wales sentences have been getting steadily longer over the past decade, by roughly 20%.

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