Clarke breaks free of a failed approach
Philip Davies says that "Lots of Conservative supporters, whether they be in Parliament or voters, will feel very disappointed by this announcement." and Jack Straw is still whining old sound-bites about "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". Well prison is tough on neither.
Mr Clarke has some public education to do, and in the face of opponents who are willing to deliberately mislead the British public for political gain.
All Home Office research for the past 30 years, including research run under Jack Straw's rule, has shown that prison doesn't work: it doesn't deter anyone, it doesn't rehabilitate anyone and it doesn't reduce crime. All prison seems really good at is making someone more likely to commit a crime.
Okay, the economic argument is a good way to start - there is no better example of a government programme that does not deliver the public much bang for its buck. But Clarkie needs to explain exactly why prison doesn't work and some of the alternatives that actually do work, if he is going to take the public with him on this one.
It will not be easy, government may view deterent and rehabilitation as high priorities, but the public sees revenge as the most important function of prison. After learning that prison will make a person worse rather than better, most voters will say: "I know, but I still want him to go to jail for what he did."