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A reader's comment

Posted online by: Michael, Surrey on 9:48pm Sun 4 May 08

Ignoring the imaginative fantasies creeping into some postings, this newspaper article is about the imprisonment of a young man and the way in which some others have expressed their sympathy. This is not a new phenomenon. On other occasions with no connection to Graffiti Art, involving individuals or groups, the same reaction has followed.

What is important here is the way in which young people are punished for non-violent offences. Currently some 70% of young people in prison are there for a non-violent offence. That is outrageous and incomparable to any of our European neighbours and many further afield as well. Imprisonment often brings high re-offending levels with life long consequences such as no home, no job, interrupted education, no credit, restrictions on travel and work abroad with the consequential ever increasing spiral of more crime and more prison. This pattern costs huge amounts of public money, which we all have to pay for and which does nothing whatsoever for rehabilitation and reoffending levels.

Many of that 70% would have benefited from Restorative Justice (which may include a fine) by working in the community either full time or part time, putting right their offence (whatever it was) over a period set by the courts.

Gary Shields is one who would have benefited from such a programme rather than receiving a sentence of imprisonment that is both vindictive and disproportionate and which will do nothing to put right his offence nor facilitate his re-entry into a society of work in any way.