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Before the Wars

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

Series:

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 6: Preventive Detention 111

Extract

chapter 6 Preventive Detention The 1908 Prevention of Crime Act provided the courts with another new sentence, in addition to borstal detention: preventive detention. This was designed to curb crime committed by a designated class of habitual offenders.1 The preventive detention sentence had its origins in a recommenda- tion of the 1895 Report, which identified ‘a large class of habitual criminals’ that the existing system of repeated short sentences had failed to combat satisfactorily. The report concluded that a new and cumulative sentence was required by which these offenders might be segregated for long periods of detention during which they should not be treated with the severity of first class hard labour or penal servitude, but would be forced to work under less onerous conditions. As loss of lib- erty would to them prove eventually the chief deterrent, so by their being removed from the opportunity of doing wrong the community would gain.2 The translation of this recommendation into legislative form, however, proved difficult, raising as it did such issues as the precise definition of ‘habitual’, the relationship between the proposed new sentence and penal servitude, and the length of the sentence, whether it should be fixed or indeterminate. A Bill of 1904, indeed, intended to provide the courts with the new sentence proved so controversial that it had to be withdrawn.3 Nevertheless, this did not deter Gladstone, the author of the 1895 Report, from returning to the matter when he succeeded to the Home Secretary- ship in 1905. Section...

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