Can we change the debate on criminal justice?

Campaigners and practitioners have long despaired at the tone and content of the debate about criminal justice in this country. Politicians announce more and more punitive measures – offenders to pay their criminal court fees, criminals to do tough work in the community, and children who commit anti-social behaviour to be imprisoned aged 14+.  Politicians think these moves are vote winners and they may be right.  A recent survey suggested 58% of young people supported the death penalty.  A new project from Transform Justice seeks to change the public, political and media discourse so campaigners find it easier to engage on all these fronts.  This project is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.  The US based NGO the FrameWorks Institute is key to the project – their research methodology facilitates the reframing of social issues.  Also involved as dissemination partners are the Criminal Justice Alliance and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice. 

What should magistrates and district judges learn?

One of Transform Justice’s previous reports looked at the make-up of the magistracy – what kind of people magistrates are, and how they are recruited.  Transform Justice is now moving to look at the skills and competence of judges working in the magistrates’ court.  This report, funded by the Hadley Trust, will look at the initial training, and on-going development of magistrates and judges and ask practitioners and court users what gaps they perceive in the skills and knowledge of these judges.