By Alan Travis, The Guardian, 6 March 2011:
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan is to argue for a change in party policy on prisons
Labour made a mistake by "playing tough" on crime and allowing the prison population to soar to record levels during its time in government, instead of tackling sky-high reoffending rates, the shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, is to acknowledge for the first time on Monday.
In a break with New Labour's hardline rhetoric, Khan is to argue that the party should declare a new policy aim of jailing fewer people.
Khan's speech to a Fabian Society/Prison Reform Trust event is the first attempt by a senior Labour figure to sketch out the party's new direction on prisons policy. He is also to announce a party working group on punishment and reform to detail the new focus on rehabilitation and cutting crime.
"We did send more people to prison and for longer. While we successfully reduced crime, we did not manage to reduce the prison population," he is to say.
Labour should have done much better in reducing reoffending rates of those coming out of prison, he believes: "I feel it was a mistake to not focus more on the issue of reducing offending. We became hesitant in talking about rehabilitation and the merits of bringing down reoffending rates.
"A focus on rehabilitation and reducing reoffending was seen as being soft on crime, when in fact it is effective in reducing crime."
Khan also warns that Ken Clarke's "rehabilitation revolution", which includes greater use of the voluntary sector and payment-by-results schemes, is seriously jeopardised by 25% cuts in the justice ministry's budget. He argues that if Clarke's plans fail then much of the progress in criminal justice over the past 13 years will be undone and the door left opened for the Tory right.