Saturday, 20 December 2008

Crime and punishment in Labour Britain

Almost every day there is some news that could fit happily under this title, here's two from today's news. First
"A magistrate has resigned after 26 years, publicly denouncing the justice system as a "farce", after becoming tired of sending criminals to prison - only to see them walking the streets a few weeks later having been released early.


In a highly critical resignation speech which he planned to deliver in open court, he said that the magistrates system built up over hundreds of years was being increasingly undermined by Government interference.

"Twenty five years ago I thought I was playing a significant role, keeping the peace and reducing crime on the streets, now I don't think I am.," he said

He condemned the increasing "straitjacket" of centrally imposed sentencing guidelines and said that the police were increasingly meting out justice "behind closed doors" by issuing cautions in criminal cases which would once have been placed before the courts.

But he said that his fellow magistrates' greatest frustration was the way in which criminals were increasingly being released long before they have finished their sentences. Dr Soper first spoke out two years ago after seeing one criminal he had sent to jail for six months a few weeks earlier walking the streets, warning that freeing inmates with tags at the "whim" of governors was making a "mockery" of sentences.

In his resignation speech he called for magistrates to be involved in early release decisions because they had considered the sentence "very hard".

"For many years we have had the farce of automatic release after half the sentence, now they often get out after only a quarter and the sentencing court has no input into that decision and I think it should," he said.

"A total of 304 of the country's most dangerous criminals, jailed since January 1997, served less than ten years despite being handed the maximum term, the Ministry of Justice has admitted.

It means courts set a minimum tariff of less than ten years for most and the Parole Board, which decides if a lifer if safe to return to the community, released them.

Murder carries a mandatory life term but very serious forms of other crimes, such as rape, manslaughter and armed robbery, can carry a discretionary life sentence.

Figures in 2006 showed some lifers were being released before even serving five years."

Isn't life in Labour Britain just fine and dandy?

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