Should our courts be imprisoning those that have been found guilty of non-violent offences? Should we not make more use of the 'community service' option in such cases? For example, is it just and sensible to be sending (former) MPs to prison for fiddling their expenses? Remember that the experience will have already ruined their political career and brought them considerable shame.
I think not. I believe that prison should only be used for violent offences. A long spell of hard-work serving the community would serve society better that a costly, probably unproductive, sojourn in clink. Of course, you may well disagree if you believe that we need to inflict retribution on all offenders; to hurt them, make them pay, for the wrong they have done. But it seems to me that it is more important that justice operates exclusively in the best interests of society. In the case of the MPs, a long spell of community service would be potentially valuable to society and provide an opportunity for the people concerned to re-earn the respect of their fellow citizens. Remember also that prison inflicts retribution on the offender's family who may well be wholly innocent.