What would society be like if there weren’t any prisons?  Peaceful arcadia or hell on earth? 

I ask because getting rid of prisons seems to me to be where we are headed if the leftist elite who appear to preside over our criminal justice system get their way. 

First came the fashion for non-custodial sentencing. As a result, nearly two thirds of criminals now avoid jail despite in some cases amassing at least 15 convictions

Then came attempts to redefine the role of prisons. Far from being places of punishment, we have been increasingly encouraged to see prisons as places of rehabilitation – despite their appalling record when it comes to releasing wrong-doers who then commit more crime.

Now we are starting to see Human Rights rules used to chip away at the idea that people in prison should be deprived of their liberties. Article 8 of the European Convention, which talks about a right to family life, is increasingly used to ensure that those on the inside have the same kind of rights as they’d have on the outside. 

Surely the whole objective of incarcerating criminals is in order to deprive them of their liberties? Undermine that notion, and you undermine the very idea of prison. 

Prisons are needed not simply to lock up the dangerous.  More profoundly, if the state is to administer justice on behalf of the rest of us, it has to be able to deprive wrong-doers of their liberties.

Far from being a utopia of restorative workshops and tearaways-made-good, a society without prisons would be hellish.  If the state did not administer justice for them, I fear people would simply revert to administering their own version of it.  That, ultimately, is why we need prisons.