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A Prison sentence fails to deter people from re-offending. It is argued that within prison criminal skills can be refined, older people talking of their successes and skills and the place in the hierarchy being conditional on the offence.Prison is a sort of “advanced school for crime” with willing students and expert tutors.

There seems little evidence than one regime or another is more effective in preventing re-offending; but the statistics are not well kept and the whole information system around prison life, prison work and health is sadly inadequate..

In prison a person loses contact with their former life-marriages flounder, a job is lost, personal contacts are diminished where letter writing may be difficult or limited and where the telephone is not available or encouraged.Even the links with a friendly GP are severed.

There is little opportunity to work, to learn new skills while the payment for work is minimal-it is not possible to save, to send money to support a family, to prepare for the expenses of resettling after discharge or even to contribute to the substantial costs to the state of keeping a person in prison-several thousand dollars a year