Monday, May 22, 2006

Labour goes for the headlines again...

In what has all the hallmarks of a tactical attempt by the British Home Office to restore some of its haemorrhaging credibility Labour is suggesting a populist - but ultimately valueless - policy on prisoner release: let the victims decide.

Recent months have given us a series of appalling crimes committed by people released from prison and serving parole. (A summary appears here). The argument goes - and I am not qualified to know whether the argument is right or wrong - that they were released too early and that this is a failing of the parole board.

So with the parole board allegedly doing their job badly and releasing violent criminals into the community - some of whom go on to commit outrages against us - the government's response is not as it should be - namely to acknowledge that the system is wrong and needs correcting (or 'reforming' as it calls everything it ever touches) - but to seek to turn a disaster into a public relations triumph. Therefore it is considering a plan whereby the parole board will factor in victims' views when deciding whether or not a criminal should be released. Presumably a crook will spend a lesser or greater time in prison depending on the comments of his victim. Does the word 'lottery' spring to mind?

We will inevitably be faced with situations where two prisoners who have committed more or less identical crimes in more or less identical circumstances will serve different sentences simply because one was lucky enough to have attacked a person with a propensity towards forgiveness whilst the other offended against somebody more bitter and unforgiving.

If Labour really wanted a headline grabbing policy - one that would be followed by large doses of public approval - it would simply announce a prison-building scheme and a commitment to imprisoning people early on in their criminal career so as to deter (especially) those youths who, emboldened by non-existent punishment for crimes committed, will slide further into lives of crime.

Our society's problems are serious and becoming more so and they require practical solutions that work. The government's various gimmicks seem to be little more than attempts to appear 'tough' on crime whilst resisting - at all costs - the simple expedient of properly locking up and treating the violent and destructive. Involving an angry and emotional victim in the serious and grave business of deciding whether or not to free a person smacks of government surrender to its own inadequacies - and the lure of big headlines. We deserve better. We're unlikely to get it.

Comments:
I heartily agree but a better form of punishment would be the american system, revised to our needs, of 3 times and your are out. No matter how serious the crime.
The old adage of '...If you can't do the time..' is very appropriate here. If, for serious crime, the offender seems bent on that type of society then lock them up in an establishment that has only violent ciminals. Have no staff present but let the garbage get on with it and rule themselves in their own violent creation. All you would need is a very high wall and a mine field.
The other alternative is punishment to fit the crime. I'll bet a few rapist's, understanding that they would butt fucked for their crimes, would certainly think twice.
Long live the revolution. People rule.
 
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