I don't intend to write much about this. If I had any coherent answer then I would be doing more than just writing about it on here.
Two points, though. There seems to be a lack of logic in the 'prison is the answer to everything' brigade point of view. They appear to argue, on the one hand, that we are in the grip of a liberal left establishment who won't adopt tough sentencing. They then argue that the only reason the government do not make prison sentences for knife possession mandatory is because there aren't enough room in the prisons.
Now, if we were dominated by liberal penal policy, then the prisons would be empty , wouldn't they, because none of these lefty do-gooders would ever send anyone to prison. In reality, the prison population is higher than ever before and prisons are bursting at the seams. So who exactly is sentencing all these people? The reality is that far from pursuing a liberal regime, there has been a singular lack of imagination and a continuation of the 'prison works' philosophy.
Which it clearly doesn't, or so many people wouldn't keep going back.
The other issue is the flawed idea of hospital visits. Restorative justice is a good idea, and it has a pedigree which displays its effectiveness ( as does community punishment if done properly). But I can't see what use random visits to hospital wards would be. bring offenders face to face with what they have done and the consequences, yes - but to try and do this with general incidents is pointless. Not to mention inappropriate in that environment.