No jail and £1000 cash

  Totally-braindead 17:23 25 Jan 2007

Just wondering what everyone thinks about John Reid telling the courts in England and Wales not to jail offenders unless they have to ie they are violent and pose a risk to others as they have no room. And in the same news yesterday the rights of the prisoners to vote in elections and the payment of compensation to them should they be denied the right to vote. Also a spokesperson for prison reform I think it was who said that people like drug couriers should not be in jail. What exactly she thought we should do with them I never found out as she only got 30 seconds to air her views.

We've had the discussion about crime and punishment before but its obviously come to a head if there is no room and they have to resort to telling the courts not to jail people unless they really have to as theres no more room.
There surely must be somewhere you can keep them, what about moving low risk prisoners to less secure locations, keep them under lock and key by all means but in some cases surely it would not be necessary to have a purpose built prison with thirty foot high walls surrounding the place. And it would clear some space for the others.

And this not being able to vote thing is ridiculous. If you are in jail you are there to repay a debt to society for something you have done which is against the law. You have as far as I am concerned decided that you will not conform to the rules of society and as such I fail to see why you should be allowed any say in how society runs while you are serving your sentence. I believe its the court of human rights who say otherwise. Are we not allowed to say no to them, do we have to follow their orders in regard to this? Do prisoners in other countries get the right to vote while in jail? And as for giving them money if they cannot vote its insane. Bearing in mind how few voters actually vote anyway how many of these criminals would have voted anyway? I can't really see them saying "oh no, don't give me £1000 as I never vote anyway" can you?

The woman who suggested that the likes of drugs couriers shouldn't be in jail in the first place obviously has no idea of what misery drugs can cause. If you traffic drugs you are at the least a dealer in misery and at worst are responsible for untold deaths. As such jail is exactly where they should be.

Regarding the don't jail them if you can possibly avoid it issue. Is this not sending out a message to the criminal element that basically you can commit a crime and as long as you don't injure someone you will not be punished?

Finally I am hoping someone can explain something to me. They keep telling us that there is less crime than before, but they also say the prison population is larger than before and I have seen many, many instances of people committing crimes and effectively being let off. They are given community service, or a curfew or the latest bit of genius the ASBO.
So if there is less crime and there are more people in prison but many crimes are committed without anyone serving any sort of sentence could someone explain how this works because it just bamboozles me. It just doesn't seem to add up.

  rodriguez 17:40 25 Jan 2007

They could probably buy a couple of unpopulated islands in the Shetlands or somewhere else that quite remote and built Alcatraz style prisons there. Then move all the high risk prisoners such as murderers and sex offenders there and use the existing prisons for the other offenders. This probably isn't as simple as it sounds though... :-P

  Kate B 18:04 25 Jan 2007

The crisis in prison places is the result of two things: first, stiffer sentencing which has meant more people being jailed and offenders not being released as early. So despite a fall in crime, the prison population rises. The second part of this crisis is the failure to build more prison places to cope with this rise in the number of people in jails.

Horrible shortsightedness and a failure to join the dots, and of course it's terribly ironic: people bay for "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" and now it's created a situation where people who probably ought to be jailed can't be.

  ulrich 18:05 25 Jan 2007

Let free . What is going on?

  Totally-braindead 18:20 25 Jan 2007

Kate B your first paragraph thats the bit I cannot understand, you said "stiffer sentencing which has meant more people being jailed and offenders not being released as early".
Now regarding people not being released as early I cannot comment I hadn't thought of that but the stiffer sentences comment. I just don't see it.
I could name half a dozen people in my small town who have between them committed perhaps 20-30 crimes. Not one of them has been jailed yet. Notice I did say yet. Wheres the stiffer sentencing here? They've had probation and ASBOs and curfews but not one has been sentenced to actual jail time. I used to live in a city 15 miles from me and it was the same there. People had to commit many crimes before they were ever sentenced to jail. I also have to point out that these crimes are only the ones they have been caught and found guilty of, I'm certain there are many they have got away with. Some of these crimes are things like shop lifting and vandalism but others are assault, drug crimes, intimidation, arson and breaking and entering.
I do not consider these minor crimes and I repeat they have not been jailed. So where is the tougher sentencing you mention?
This is what I cannot understand. If theres less crime as they keep saying then there must be fewer criminals therefore you would think there would be less people in prison. If you were correct in what you said about tougher sentencing then yes the people that were in prison would be in their longer and therefore the prisons would be more crowded.
Even taking serious crimes into view. I cannot see that murderers get higher tougher sentences. You see it in the paper all the time about a murderer being sentenced and to be honest the sentence dished out seems very very small to me. Some as low as 8 years, with good behaviour they might serve 6.
I'm sorry but I have seen no evidence of these tougher sentences you mention.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 18:21 25 Jan 2007

Clear some space

Bring back hanging.

Prison is no longer a deterrent and even less so when some idiot politician lets the world no we have no more room.

  Totally-braindead 18:27 25 Jan 2007

I wasn't wanting to bring back the hanging arguement again as we've already had a rather long thread on it.

  Kate B 18:57 25 Jan 2007

Sentencing guidelines are tougher, people are being sent down for offences that might otherwise have got them a fine or community service. What you consider major and minor crimes isn't necessarily what magistrates are instructed to consider major or minor crimes. Possession, for example, can attract either a custodial sentence or a fine.

Someone with, say, a gram of cocaine for a party doesn't come under the heading of dealer and might get sent down or might not - probably not, but it's not impossible. That's a minor crime in comparison to armed robbery and I think one of the issues is that there isn't a coherent approach to sentencing. You might think a partygoer with a gram of charlie in his pocket is a serious criminal, in fact if he's a twice-a-year-user he's no threat to society.

Ditto, say, a shoplifter: there's little to be gained from society's point of view from sending down a teenager who's doing it as a dare and has been caught and has come up under a tough magistrate who wants to set an example, but equally they might come in front of a bench that's keen to keep people out of prison. There's no coherence and that's a problem.

For me, the bottom line is how much of a threat to society is a convicted criminal. A kid shoplifting - well, she or he could be a persistent antisocial pain in the neck but one with a bright future and who would be profoundly disadvantaged from being sent down - I'd say don't jail someone like that. A partygoer with a gram of coke or a couple of pills also isn't a threat to society: his dealer might well be, so sending the partygoer down achieves nothing and further adds to the prison problem, though taking a dealer off the streets does benefit society.

The parole system probably needs looking at: in whose interests is it to keep someone in jail for the length of their sentence? If they're a threat, then keep 'em in, obviously; but if not and they're showing signs of being rehabilitated, parole them.

That's a long way of saying I think sentencing guidelines need to be rethought and applied coherently and intelligently.

Hanging - let's not go there. It's not really germane to this issue anyway as it's theoretical.

  spuds 19:02 25 Jan 2007

I would have thought that one simple solution to overcrowded prisons, would be a Victim's Compensation Scheme.This scheme would be based on the culprit's having to make amends to the victim's and/or local community.Name and shame the culprit's, whatever their ages.

  Kate B 19:13 25 Jan 2007

With some exceptions - minors and those accused of rape - the guilty and indeed the accused and not yet guilty or innocent ARE named and shamed. So I'm not quite sure what you're getting at, spuds.

Compensation directly from the convicted offender I think is unworkable. It's fine in principle but in practice not everyone who's convicted of an offence that has a clear victim has money and what you end up with is the victim having to pursue the case for compensation through the courts, thereby compounding the distress they've presumably already suffered.

And we already have a system whereby offenders make amends to the community: it's called community service.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 19:15 25 Jan 2007

Non violent "safe" criminals could be tagged and left at home but report daily for commuity service work such as street cleaning, dustbin emptying, gardening for pensioners etc.

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