That insidious criminal justice lobby...
The parts of the speech released smack of "Unspeak". Straw it seems wants to reintroduce old-fashioned words like "punishment" and "reform", as if they had ever went away. The real reason why they might have become deprecated is because we no longer see prison purely as punishment or purely as reform; we've realised that pure punishment does not reform, just as without punishment there is no incentive to reform. This though is far too touch-feely for the tabloids, or for the victims' families that the Sun especially keeps inflicting upon us: what they want is little more than an eye for an eye, which the system can never provide. Equally disingenuous is his highlighting of terms such as "criminogenic needs of offenders"; a Google search turns up just 32,400 results, most of them American in origin or from psychological academic tomes.
It's not even as if Straw is being anything approaching original. Almost all the previous home secretaries under Labour, including Straw himself, and now the justice secretary since the changes in the Home Office have said they'll be ever tougher on crime, criminals and increasingly cater for victims. Each has also subsequently, after doing so and having failed to provide the punitive measures which they apparently favoured, been ridiculed and pilloried by those they attempted to woo. John Reid was depicted as brainless and Charles Clarke was sacrificed over the foreign prisoners affair; only Blunkett prospered, being given pride of place by the Sun in its columns for his "straight-talk". Straw must surely be aware of the dangers of his approach, but has gone ahead anyway.
And how has the Sun, for example, responded? In the way only it can:
Would Newlove like to name on single do-gooder that has been employed on a huge salary? It would be a challenge, as they number next to none.
As for the editorial:
You talk a good game, Jack. If you really mean business, though, give us those new prisons.
And end the early-release scheme that last year alone saw 31,000 inmates — yes, 31,000 — freed before their time.
All released a whole two weeks' before their sentence would have ended normally and that without which the prisons would be completely full, partially as a result of the Scum's own demands for incessant harsher sentences. Straw can't possibly win, but you almost have to give him credit for trying. The countdown to Straw being depicted as a crazed lunatic setting free criminals to murder your relatives begins now.