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Reformed offender and drug addict Mark Johnson says tougher sentences not the answer

Former violent criminal and drug and alcohol abuser Mark Johnson has told Neil Mitchell mandatory sentencing will do nothing to deter criminals from offending.

Mark Johnson (above) has been clean for 18 years, and has since started an organisation called User Voice, the first ex-offender led charity in the UK which encourages ex-criminals to play a role in changing the system.

“I’ve spoken to thousands and thousands of offenders,” Mark said.

“One of the questions was, would the length of sentence that you have now got, knowing that at the time of committing your offence, deterred you from what you were doing?

“The answer is categorically no.

“Consequence doesn’t even come into it.

“It’s not about ‘tough on crime’ it’s ‘smarter on crime’.”

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Mark said he was jailed at 17 for eight months after a violent gang brawl.

“If there was any innocence before I went in there, it was gone by the time I came out,” he said.

“I think I fell through the cracks of the system, which is probably my message for today and the future.

“You replicate violence if that’s all you’ve ever known.”