Professor Andrew Ashworth gave the annual Roger Hood lecture in the Manor Road lecture theatre last Thursday (23rd May). In a talk entitled 'Why Sentencing Matters', Prof. Ashworth provided insight into a number of the key issues currently facing sentencing theory and practice.

A key underlying issue running through much of the presentation was the extent to which academics and others concerned with current sentencing practice are able to gain leverage for change. Minor variations aside, as crime has continued to fall in recent years the number of people sent to prison has continued to rise, a situation many see as untenable but about which it often seems little can be done.

As in all his work Prof. Ashworth was clear that the deprivation of liberty via imprisonment  is one of the most serious things a state can do to its citizens, and as such each sentence of imprisonment needs to be carefully justified. The extent to which he questioned the consistency of such justification was a striking aspect of his presentation.

The lecture was recorded as a podcast, now available here; listening is highly recommended!