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The last five years have seen some of the biggest changes in our Justice system, in particular since Chris Grayling took over the role of Justice Secretary in September 2012.

These include:

  • The privatisation of the probation service via Transforming Rehabilitation
  • Numerous changes removing “privileges from prisoners” to make prison a more punitive experience
  • The decision to build the Welsh “Titan” super prison in Wrexham
  • The Secure College initiative for young offenders
  • The large scale cuts and changes to the Legal Aid system

The one thing that all the political pundits appear to agree on about the next election is that the contest is too close to call. Not only is it unclear who will win the election on 7 May but we have little idea in what direction the next government will take the criminal justice system.

For the first time in recent years, it seems as if the political parties may have different policies in the criminal justice arena. But what should the priorities be for the next Justice Secretary? 

So I decided the time was perfect to invite a range of key criminal justice agencies and commentators to write a brief blog post setting out their top three priorities for the new Justice Secretary to be achieved in his/her first year in office.

The Howard League for Penal Reform, the Prison Reform Trust, the probation union NAPO and Clinks are just some of the organisations who have agreed to contribute.

So far, contributors have argued the case for a more-evidence based criminal justice policy; less use of prison, a new approach for female offenders and de-politicising criminal justice by holding a Royal Commission.

You can see all the posts on my blog here

The purpose of this blog series is to stimulate a debate about where our criminal justice system should be heading and there are a couple of different ways you can join in.

Firstly, by using the #nextGrayling hashtag on Twitter.

Secondly, by completing a short survey that Sanctuary Criminal Justice has sent out to its community.

The fact that we seem to be heading for a coalition government of some form might well mean that there could be real changes in the direction of criminal justice policy with more than one political party having influence.

I hope you feel like joining the debate.

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