Liz Truss will announce today there will be no 'quick fix' to reduce the number of prisoners
Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss is expected to use a keynote speech to emphatically rule out any "quick fix" to reduce the numbers of offenders behind bars following warnings from governors of a growing crisis in jails.
And she will launch a scathing attack on Labour for calling inmates to be let out early.
“This would be reckless and endanger the public," Ms Truss will say.
Her speech, at an event hosted by the Centre for Social Justice, will be the first time the Justice Secretary has set out her views on sentencing in detail since taking over her post from predecessor Michael Gove.
This will be the first time she expresses her views on sentencing in detail since succeeding Mr Gove
This is the right thing for victims and the right thing for the British public
It is expected to be seen as signal that, with Theresa May as leader, the Tories are returning to their traditional "prison works" approach after flirting with softer sentencing policies under David Cameron.
Only more effective rehabilitation for prisoners to cut reoffending can reduce prison numbers in the long term, Ms Truss will say.
In her speech to the think tank in Westminster, the Justice Secretary will point out that the prison population has risen because judges are handing out longer sentences to criminals convicted of violence and sex crimes.
"More victims have the confidence in the criminal justice system to come forward," the Cabinet minister is expected to say.
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The speech will be seen as signal that the Tories are returning to their traditional 'prison works'
"And it is happening because we are catching and convicting more violent offenders and giving them longer sentences that better reflect the seriousness of their crimes.
“This is the right thing for victims and the right thing for the British public."
Ms Truss is to launch an outspoken attack on Labour's shadow attorney general Lady Chakrabarti for a recent call for an end to the "authoritarian arms race" in sentencing.
The former civil liberties campaigner given a shadow cabinet role by Labour's hard-Left leader Jeremy Corbyn ditched the party's "tough on crime" slogan and criticised rising prison numbers.
"I don't believe the sum of human wickedness has doubled in my adult lifetime," Lady Chakarbarti said at the end of last year.
Lady Chakrabarti recently called for an end to the "authoritarian arms race" in sentencing
Ms Truss will say: "She blames a political arms race for the numbers in our jails. “What has actually happened in Baroness Chakrabarti's lifetime is that the criminal justice system has got better at catching and convicting criminals who have perpetrated some of the most appalling crimes imaginable.
"And sentence lengths now better reflect the severity of crimes like domestic violence, rape and child abuse.
“It's not that the sum of human wickedness has doubled – it's that we have driven that wickedness out from the shadows and put it where it belongs, behind bars."
Ms Truss will cite official figures showing a 75% increase in custodial sentences for violent offenders since 2000.
Over the same period, the number of sex offenders jailed has increased by 140% and the average length of sentence for sex crimes has risen by 50%.
Three out of five inmates are serving sentences for drug dealing, violence or sex crimes, she will say.
“It is not the case there has been an upward drift in sentence length across the board," the Justice Secretary will add.
"Increases in sentences have only been in particular areas.
“In fact the biggest driver for prison growth in the last twenty years has been the exposure, pursuit and punishment of sexual offences, domestic abuse and other crimes of violence.
“A more understanding and responsive attitude to how we treat victims of sex crimes has seen an increase in reporting and changing attitudes in society have been reflected in a toughening up of sentences."
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Ms Truss will promise to publish a new Prisons and Courts Bill later this month which will "for the first time enshrine in law that reforming offenders is a key purpose of prison and that the Secretary of State has a responsibility for delivering it".
In her speech today, she will say: “This will usher in the biggest reform of our prisons in a generation. It will transform our prisons from offender warehouses to disciplined and purposeful centres of reform – from places of violence and despair to places of self-improvement and hope where all prisoners are given the chance to lead a better life."
Ms Truss will also call for a tougher crackdown on lawbreakers early in their criminal careers to try to halt their offending.
“We also need to get better at intervening earlier by giving our courts the right tools for reform," she will say.
"There can never be an excuse for committing crime but too often people end up in prison because our interventions to tackle problems like drug addiction or mental health issues don't work as well as they should.
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“Ministry of Justice research shows that community sentences are most effective when they tackle the problems that contribute to the offender's crime."
She will add: “Early intervention is not a ‘nice to have' added extra to the justice system, it is vital if we are ever to break the cycle of crime, punishment and more crime."
And she will add: “We all agree it is desirable to have a lower prison population but it has to be for the right reasons.
“Public protection is paramount which means managing the prison population in a safe and sustainable way.
“So over time the prison population will go down if Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service has got better at reforming offenders. It will go down if we have got better at intervening earlier. And it will go down if we have got better at managing the population inside. And I am committed to delivering this.
“Reductions by cap or quota, or by sweeping sentencing cuts are not a magic bullet, they are a dangerous attempt at a quick fix."