Central London Debating Society

This house believes that the justice system should prioritise rehabilitation over punishment.


The majority of UK prisons are overcrowded, according to the Prisons Reform Trust, thus creating anarchic environments where it is difficult for prison officers to either maintain discipline or rehabilitate prisons. Meanwhile, the government adopts "tough on crime" policies that are sure to further increase the prison population. 

The loss of liberty, through imprisonment, is the harshest punishment in our criminal justice system. For many this severity is justified by the need to either deter others from committing crimes, or a desire to make wrongdoers suffer for the harm that they have caused. Others, argue that prison should attempt to educate and reform prisoners; giving ex-offenders a chance to redeem themselves whilst also reducing the risk that they will re-offend.

The government plans to build three new "super-jails" which can hold up to 2000 prisoners. But in a time of cuts should prisons focus on retribution or rehabilitation? Should prison focus on punishing the guilty or helping them? You decide. 

Taking part:

Everyone gets a chance to speak in our public debates, although you can also just watch and enjoy the show if you'd prefer.

If you would like to get involved, simply send us a quick message at [masked] and let us know - our club is aimed at newcomers to debating and public speaking and we'd love to hear from you.

Further Reading:

1) Most prisons are overcrowded (Prison Reform Trust)

2) Government ploughs on with plan for Super-Jail (The Independent)

3) Criminal Justice statistics in England and Wales (Ministry of Justice)

4) A tough but intelligent approach to criminal justice (David Cameron PM)

5) Balancing punishment with rehabilitation (NACRO)

6) The purpose of criminal justice (Centre for Crime and Justice Studies)

We are proud members of the London Debating Hub and we highly recommend you keep an eye out for all the other amazing events promoted on this page if you are interested in speaking your mind on subjects you care about and meeting other like-minded people.

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  • Tony P.

    Sorry. Looks like I won't make it. Next time.

    January 24, 2013

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