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Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill: Penal Reformer

Foreword by Sir Martin Gilbert


Alan Baxendale

Historians of Winston Churchill’s career customarily mention his innovations, whether realized or not, in prison treatment and sentencing during his Home Secretaryship between February 1910 and October 1911. Little mention is made, however, of what motivated him. This book traces the evolution of Churchill’s thinking as it has survived in the documentary records of his Home Secretaryship held in the Home Office archive, together with other evidence, both primary and secondary.
This evidence incorporates the exchange of views concerning specific prison treatment and sentencing issues in which Churchill engaged with his senior Home Office staff and His Majesty’s Prison Commissioners in the course of their day-to-day transaction of the business of criminal justice. These issues continue to be relevant, given the ongoing debate about modification of the criminal justice system, the internal organization and management of the Home Office as its overseer and more particularly prison treatment and sentencing.
The book also sheds light on Churchill as a person, a politician and a government minister by focusing on his working methods and his relationships with his staff, reminding us of a side to his character which is an important element in understanding his long parliamentary and ministerial career.