Penal Reform International wishes to express its sympathy with the criminal justice reform community following the attack on Friday 29 November 2019 at a prisoner rehabilitation event, which led to the deaths of two representatives of a prisoner education programme, Learning Together.
Our hearts go out to Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt’s families and friends, to all colleagues at the Institute of Criminology of the University of Cambridge and to all relatives and colleagues. Please read the tribute for Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt from the Director of the Institute of Criminology.
Like our colleagues working on penal reform work in London, England and further afield, we base our reform work on the premise that the primary purpose of a prison sentence is rehabilitation – a principle set down in international law and standards, including in article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
‘PRI does not take a position on individual cases and does not undertake criminal justice reform work in the United Kingdom,’ noted Florian Irminger, Executive Director of PRI, which works globally with offices in multiple locations, including in London. ‘Yet, our global work in over 130 criminal justice systems in the past three decades, confirmed to us that “hard cases make bad law”. We join the voices calling all actors for restraint and for conclusions to be drawn from objective and verifiable investigations and facts. Penal populism is no answer to trauma and brings no comfort to victims and their relatives. Furthermore, there is no evidence that correlates long prison sentences with a reduction in crime.’
‘In the challenging environment where reform work based on human rights is questioned’, Florian Irminger continued, ‘we stand in solidarity with our partners who continue to work tirelessly for systems that are fair and effective and we hold humanity as a value by which we should judge reactions to the traumatic events of Friday 29 November.’