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Short prison sentences should stop being given to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has said.
Matthew Ellis joined fellow commissioners to call for changes to sentencing as the country battles the COVID-19 outbreak.
The commissioner, who led a review into crime in prisons in the West Midlands last year, said:
“There are practical reasons during the current pandemic to reduce pressure on our prison service by releasing low-risk, non-violent individuals serving short sentences.
“If that happens, we must also ensure that a robust study is in place to examine the outcomes for all individuals released. It will help inform the on-going debate as to the effectiveness, or not, of short term custody in prison.
“Our study last year across the prison estate in the West Midlands suggested, far from reforming individuals, short stays in prison make it more likely individuals become entrenched in more serious criminality than they were actually imprisoned for in the first place.”Matthew Ellis
The review saw the commissioner visit prisons throughout the region.
He said any changes could be used to influence future decisions on shorter jail stays handed out by the courts.
“If the current circumstances lead to a temporary halt in short prison sentences, I think it’s vital that we capture that data so it can be considered for potentially longer-term measures in the future.”