The government must take a radical approach to sentencing if it is to avoid disaster as a result of overcrowded prisons, according to a new report by the justice select committee.
Sentences shorter than a year should be scrapped altogether, the report read, if the government is to tackle safety concerns within prisons in England and Wales.
Justice secretary David Gauke is calling the proposals “smart justice”.
Assaults and incidents of self-harm in prisons have reached record highs in recent years, which the committee warned was a “grave and worsening” situation.
Under the proposals, short custodial terms would be replaced by community orders.
The committee continued: “We need a serious open public debate about the criminal justice system, the role of prison and its affordability. We are pleased that the justice secretary and prisons minister have acknowledged this but regardless of the political climate it cannot just be a long-term aspiration.