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Before the Wars

Churchill as Reformer (1910 – 1911)- With a Foreword by Sir Martin Gilbert


Alan Baxendale

Winston Churchill will be forever known as the great statesman who bravely led Britain through the war years, but what led the young Churchill down this path to greatness? What motivated him to become the future leader?
Delving into documentary records in the Home Office archive, Alan S. Baxendale brings to light the young Churchill’s war at home while Home Secretary from February 1910 to October 1911. Passionate about reforming prison treatment and sentencing, Churchill engaged with his senior Home Office staff and His Majesty’s Prison Commissioners in a daily discussion of the business of criminal justice. With a focus on his working methods and relationships with his staff, Baxendale offers a new look at Churchill as a young and talented politician whose leadership led to innovative reforms that are still influential today.
This book makes an important contribution to the ongoing debate about the criminal justice system, providing a crucial addition to our understanding of the history of prison reform. It also gives us valuable insight into Churchill as a person, shedding light on his formative years as a minister and providing us with important clues to how he became one of the most successful politicians of modern times.


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Chapter 5: Young Offenders 101


chapter 5 Young Offenders On 21 December 1908, Parliament enacted a Bill Part I of which provided the courts with a new sentence, borstal detention, to help curb the crimi- nality of a designated class of young offenders. The Bill as enacted, the Prevention of Crime Act, came into operation on 1 August 1909.1 It concerned persons who were convicted by the courts, on indictment, of offences for which they were liable to be sentenced to penal servitude or imprisonment. In cases, however, where it appeared to the courts that such persons were aged not less than sixteen and not more than twenty- one, that by reason of their habits they had settled into criminal careers, and that it was expedient they should be detained under instruction and discipline conducive to their reformation, it would be lawful for them to pass on such persons the new sentence of ‘borstal detention’ in lieu of penal servitude or imprisonment. The sentences were fixed at not less than one and not more than three years. Before passing such a sentence, though, the courts were obliged to consider any report or representations made to them by or on behalf of the Prison Commissioners as to the suitability of the persons concerned for detention in a borstal institution, and to be satisfied that their character, state of health, mental condition and other circumstances of their cases would enable them to profit by the instruction and discipline provided. The Home Secretary was empowered to make regulations...

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