The battle of the sexes in the political world is blasting ahead at full steam in the UK as Justice Secretary David Gauke hinted that he believed fewer women should be in jail. The Justice Secretary said in an interview for Sophy Ridge on Sunday that an increased number of women will be given non-custodial sentences if convicted of non-violent crimes. The government's strategy on female offenders was supposed to be published last year but will be released "very shortly", according to Gauke.
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"I think we do have to be conscious that sometimes there are different issues with women offenders than there are with men," Gauke said. "A lot of female offenders, for example, are themselves, victims of crime, quite a high proportion are victims of domestic abuse themselves… a lot of them are non-violent, a lot of them [have] complex mental health issues we need to address. I think there is a very good point in saying that of the 4,000 or so female offenders who are in custody, how many of them can be dealt with through other means?"
Gauke continued, "Non-custodial sentences are certainly something to look at, more support in the community rather than within prisons is something we have to look at. There will of course still be women who need to be in prison, serious offenders, but I think there is scope to look at that number and I think that number could come down." Over 80% of women are in prison for non-violent offenses and nearly two-thirds of those sentences are six months or less. The short sentences are criticized for being too short to provide adequate rehabilitation but long enough to lose housing or custody of children.
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Gauke also criticized middle-class drug dealers who "have to recognize that they are fueling the industry that is resulting in the knife crimes, that is resulting in the difficulties we have in prison." Gauke went on to blame violent crime on the middle-class drug users. "The violent crime we see inside and outside prison is strongly linked to the drugs trade…There is a responsibility for middle-class people who take cocaine at a dinner party, that when they see a story of a 15-year-old being stabbed in Hackney, they should feel a degree of guilt and responsibility."
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