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A failure of justice


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#1 ckn

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:43 AM

I've read too many stories like this over the last few years.  Courts have been lenient on offenders then they've gone on to do another, more serious, crime.  I fully understand the arguments for not just locking up people, everything from having to build twice as many prisons to it hardening offenders, but surely that just means the justice system is flawed.  I'm also not a fan of the death penalty as many of the commenters on the article are advocating, this is a failure of earlier justice and reform should be about stopping crime escalating rather than holding back the stick until the big crimes.


So... how would you fix it?


Here's what I'd do:

 

Criminals under 16:

- make the parents share any punishments ordered.  For example, give a youth a 200 hours community service order and the parents get it as well.  Parents should only be excused if they can prove to a very high standard that they tried everything they could to reform the child.  In the case of the story here, it's at such a late stage of persistent offending that the parents should be looking at a jail sentence.

- confiscation orders.  Strip the kids' family of everything bar basic survival and hygiene stuff and sell it to help compensate victims.  Do it anyway if the stuff wouldn't sell or make money.  Same burden of proof on the parents as above.

- make handling stolen goods from a burglary a far more serious offence.  Automatic lengthy jail time unless you can prove you did everything reasonably possible to verify that the goods are legit.  Extend that to the managers of 2nd hand goods stores like Cash Converters.

- humiliating community service.  That's the only thing that many youngsters truly don't want to do.  Luminous pink Hello Kitty jumpsuits minesweeping public parks on their hands and knees for dog-mess.  Make exemptions hard to get, for example if you're fit enough to do a burglary or assault then you have no limitations on what community service you can be given and you cannot get a doctor's note for excusal from your GP, it must be police doctor; many GPs admit to being pressured to give sick notes by intimidation.

 

Criminals over 16:

- adult versions of above.

- make tracking tags actually neck tags and make them big and bright.  Make them automatically emit noise, maybe a siren or annoyingly loud beep, if they go outside their curfew zone.  In fact, why not just program it to play S-Club 7 on repeat until they get back into their zones; quite hard to commit crimes while you have "Reach for the Stars" playing away at a loud volume.

- for those on benefits, remove cash benefits entirely and replace them with food stamps and state-paid housing benefits.  Random house inspections where the inspector can demand to be shown receipts for any new item and where the money came from to buy it.

- if jailed, then released prisoners should be automatically relocated at least 100 miles from home with a more discrete tracking device fitted for the same duration as their jail time.  Automatic return to jail if you go within 10 miles of your former house without police permission.  Force councils to house these criminals on a pro-rated allocation basis.

 

Rehabilitation:

- remove all criminal records gained before 16, except for jail time, if the youth is completely free from trouble from 16-21.  Only allow police to access these records and exempt them completely from CRB disclosure.

- the Enhanced CRB should only be available to external reviewers.  For example, the case where a teacher was sacked for getting a criminal record for not having a fishing license was an abuse of the CRB process, any criminal conviction should be externally assessed and then only if it's relevant should it be passed onto the employer.

- allow an offender the right to appeal to a judge to have a criminal record hidden from CRB disclosure as a recognition of exceptional public service, e.g. for years of charity work or other substantial point to allow a judge to decide whether to allow someone to live down the stupidity of youth.

 

Foreign criminals given a jail sentence?  Deport them once any criminal appeal has ended, refuse them access to immigration appeals processes.  Even the EU ones.  It's good enough for France to do and they just give a gallic shrug when someone complains to the ECHR (or ECJ for EU cases) about them.  Rights to live in a foreign country come with responsibilities, break the responsibilities, lose the rights.  Don't know which country they came from then make a best guess, not your problem if you got it wrong, it's a common problem these days with many disposing of foreign ID documents to hamper deportation.  Also, if they're given a criminal conviction that results in any punishment award and they do not have right to remain then it automatically invalidates their immigration application.

 

Finally, speed up justice.  It currently takes a minimum of 6-12 months to get from charge to jury trial, longer in some parts of Britain.  First step, allow the CPS to submit requests directly to the Crown Court for trials rather than having at least two Magistrates Court hearings before a Crown Court will even start the scheduling process.  That removes about 3 months from the process.  Then you could have a two-tier Crown Court, tier one for the most serious of crimes where defence and prosecution are given the current time limits to prepare their cases, tier two for less serious crimes or for persistent offending minor crimes where you can have almost an American style revolving door hearing system for pre-trial stuff to speed up the process.


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#2 Marauder

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 11:22 AM

 It's time for some kind of military based education probably between the ages of 13 and 16; this would leave two years to concentrate on polishing their education before going on to University or the cold outside world.


Carlsberg don't do Soldiers, but if they did, they would probably be Brits.



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#3 WearyRhino

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 12:22 PM

It's time for some kind of military based education probably between the ages of 13 and 16; this would leave two years to concentrate on polishing their education before going on to University or the cold outside world.


Absolutely, fit thugs trained to use arms is just what the country needs.

#4 tonyXIII

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 02:16 PM

It's hard to think of anything constructive to say when faced with this sort of problem.

 

I don't know when everybody started describing the role of prison as "rehabilitation", but I suspect it was post-WW2. I think that idea is seriously wrong. Prison is not a place for rehabilitation. I'm not convinced that rehabilitation will work for most criminals, certainly not for these cowardly thugs. Rehabilitation needs a long, hard re-examination. It should be available for those prisoners who have shown that they are likely to benefit from it, not the general prison population, and it should probably be carried out 'elsewhere'. I don't know how the 'elsewhere' would work, but that is an operational problem, rather than a reason not to do it.

 

One thing I do know is that, while inside prison, neither of these youths will kill another pensioner and that, for me is a damn good reason for longer sentences. I would also advocate a harsher prison climate for most prisoners. Offering them gymnasiums so they can build up their strength and then use that in the commission of future crimes is not wise. Computer and personal TV access is also a debatable issue. The main argument against tougher conditions is, I believe, that it makes the prisoners harder to control and makes prison officers' working conditions even worse. Again, that is an operational problem, not a reason not to do it.

 

In short, build more prisons, make conditions harsher generally (but allow for 'suitable' prisoners to be transferred to a more lenient environment), make sentences longer and put more of the violent criminals inside. A similar set up for under-16s should be put in place, but it should be modified to reflect the younger age range. (On reaching 16, it should be "Happy Birthday, and welcome to adult prison")

 

Oh yes, and employ more prison officers. (Job creation!)


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#5 Marauder

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 02:51 PM

Absolutely, fit thugs trained to use arms is just what the country needs.

Disciplined fit youngsters.


Carlsberg don't do Soldiers, but if they did, they would probably be Brits.



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#6 WearyRhino

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 03:40 PM

What a lot of reactionary nonsense written here so far. More prison, harsher regimes and longer sentences is a recipe for an expensive disaster and ultimately more crime. There can be few industrialised nations with a CJ system harsher than the USA and few that have as much crime. On the other hand CJ in most Scandinavian countries is focused on rehabilitation and has much less crime. You have to ask yourself whether you want societal revenge and retribution or whether you want less crime - you cannot have both.

#7 Severus

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 03:52 PM

I was just about to cite the Scandinavian example of how the focus on rehabilitation leads to less crime but WearyRhino beat me to it. It costs a fortune to lock up a prisoner, building more prisons, longer and harsher sentences will cost a lot more in the long run.

Edited by Severus, 10 May 2013 - 03:53 PM.

Fides invicta triumphat

#8 Bostik Bailey

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:35 PM

Enter Wolford stage right

#9 tonyXIII

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 06:31 PM

What a lot of reactionary nonsense written here so far. More prison, harsher regimes and longer sentences is a recipe for an expensive disaster and ultimately more crime. There can be few industrialised nations with a CJ system harsher than the USA and few that have as much crime. On the other hand CJ in most Scandinavian countries is focused on rehabilitation and has much less crime. You have to ask yourself whether you want societal revenge and retribution or whether you want less crime - you cannot have both.

 

With all due respect, it's not as simple as that. If you compare the UK approach to the Scandinavian one and conclude that a Scandinavian (liberal) approach to dealing with criminals will solve our problems, you're ignoring every other factor that could impact on the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs and there must be thousands - social norms, parental responsibility, education, health system, even excise duty and the availability of cheap booze (off the top of my head). I started from the premise that our rehabilitation system does NOT work and suggested that a more focused system, restricted to those who might get something out of it, would be a better bet. I also suggested doing it outside prison. And I also suggested there would be increased costs. Therein lies the reason our criminal justice system is failing. We put too much public money into the pockets of rich lawyers (I know not all lawyers are rich, but there aren't many poor ones) and not enough into providing the support systems the country needs, by which I do not mean spending it on prisoners.

 

This particular 'hang 'em and flog 'em' bloke has actually put some thought into the subject and come to realise that things are not getting better and doing nothing will just let things get worse.

 

Actually, flogging them after you've hanged them is pointless. Flog them first. :D


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#10 nec

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 06:58 PM

I love the way that our country has become so enamoured by the military that we see them as the answer to every sociological problem.
Rugby League is a sport that desperately needs to expand its geographical supporter base and its player base. This imperative means that all other requirements are secondary until this is done.

All power in the game should be with governing bodies, especially international governing bodies.

Without these actions we will remain a minor sport internationally and nationally.

#11 Methven Hornet

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 08:12 PM

It's hard to think of anything constructive to say when faced with this sort of problem.

 

I don't know when everybody started describing the role of prison as "rehabilitation", but I suspect it was post-WW2. I think that idea is seriously wrong. Prison is not a place for rehabilitation. I'm not convinced that rehabilitation will work for most criminals, certainly not for these cowardly thugs. Rehabilitation needs a long, hard re-examination. It should be available for those prisoners who have shown that they are likely to benefit from it, not the general prison population, and it should probably be carried out 'elsewhere'. I don't know how the 'elsewhere' would work, but that is an operational problem, rather than a reason not to do it.

 

One thing I do know is that, while inside prison, neither of these youths will kill another pensioner and that, for me is a damn good reason for longer sentences. I would also advocate a harsher prison climate for most prisoners. Offering them gymnasiums so they can build up their strength and then use that in the commission of future crimes is not wise. Computer and personal TV access is also a debatable issue. The main argument against tougher conditions is, I believe, that it makes the prisoners harder to control and makes prison officers' working conditions even worse. Again, that is an operational problem, not a reason not to do it.

 

In short, build more prisons, make conditions harsher generally (but allow for 'suitable' prisoners to be transferred to a more lenient environment), make sentences longer and put more of the violent criminals inside. A similar set up for under-16s should be put in place, but it should be modified to reflect the younger age range. (On reaching 16, it should be "Happy Birthday, and welcome to adult prison")

 

Oh yes, and employ more prison officers. (Job creation!)

 

I suspect that you are wrong.


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#12 Steve May

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 08:14 PM

 It's time for some kind of military based education probably between the ages of 13 and 16; this would leave two years to concentrate on polishing their education before going on to University or the cold outside world.

 

Given the huge proportion of veterans who end up in prison, homeless or committing suicide I think you can draw two conclusions.

 

Firstly, we dramatically fail those who leave the Armed forces and we are nowhere near getting to the bottom of this problem. 

 

Secondly, just about the last organisation that you would want heavily involved in educating children is the UK military.

 

 

 

 

Speaking personally, I think a forced stint in the Army for me as a young man would have been a huge waste of my time and an even bigger waste of the miltary's resources..  


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#13 Steve May

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 08:15 PM

I love the way that our country has become so enamoured by the military that we see them as the answer to every sociological problem.

 

 

I find it very odd, and quite worrying.


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#14 Steve May

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 08:21 PM

I've read too many stories like this over the last few years.  Courts have been lenient on offenders then they've gone on to do another, more serious, crime.  I fully understand the arguments for not just locking up people, everything from having to build twice as many prisons to it hardening offenders, but surely that just means the justice system is flawed.

 

You've read too many stories about this?   That's interesting, but not relevant to the problem.   The plural of anecdote is not data.

 

FWIW, countries across the World are reporting lower and lower crime rates.  Noone is quite sure why, but we seem to be getting nicer to each other.  In country after country crime peaked in the mid 90s and has dropped dramatically ever since.

 

Any discussion of this topic must start with that fact, that crime is at historically very low levels, rather than Daily Mail articles about particularly unpleasant individuals.

 

Do you want to try again?


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#15 ckn

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:14 PM

You've read too many stories about this?   That's interesting, but not relevant to the problem.   The plural of anecdote is not data.

 

FWIW, countries across the World are reporting lower and lower crime rates.  Noone is quite sure why, but we seem to be getting nicer to each other.  In country after country crime peaked in the mid 90s and has dropped dramatically ever since.

 

Any discussion of this topic must start with that fact, that crime is at historically very low levels, rather than Daily Mail articles about particularly unpleasant individuals.

 

Do you want to try again?

Erm... no.

 

In my very subjective opinion, I am sick of reading about convicted criminals given multiple chances after multiple chances the going on to commit a far more serious, and avoidable, crime.  Last week, I read a story about a judge criticising himself after giving a criminal with over 150 individual convictions yet another chance only for him to go on to commit another, more serious, offence within a day of being released.

 

Just because crime is undoubtedly at a historical low doesn't mean that we should be any more tolerant of persistent and wilful criminal behaviour.  How can it be right in any way that someone with more than 20, never mind 150, convictions be given another chance?  It's the old "stop it or we'll tell you to stop it again, but next time we'll tell you in a more stern voice".

 

Even if this was ONE person out of the entire UK being given this sort of repeated chance, it is one too many.  Historically low national crime rates are utterly irrelevant when you're talking about individual criminals.


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#16 Steve May

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:24 PM

Erm... no.

 

In my very subjective opinion, I am sick of reading about convicted criminals...

 

Try reading different newspapers?

 

Historically low national crime rates are utterly irrelevant when you're talking about individual criminals.

 

But very relevant indeed when talking about what you might do about it.   Your set of suggestions might well sound fine to someone who's angry about a particular incident as reported in a newspaper with a history of stoking up outrage.  But as a sensible policy offering to tackle problems in the actual real world? 

 

Come on, you're a bright guy and you can do better than this.


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#17 JohnM

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:40 PM

I find it very odd, and quite worrying.


Me too.

#18 tonyXIII

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:08 PM

I suspect that you are wrong.

 

You are welcome to your view, of course.

 

I have tried  to find references to "rehabilitation of offenders" from before 1945, but cannot find any conclusive references. (Okay, 20 minutes on Google is not extensive research, but I didn't find one reliable such reference) There is a reference to rehabilitation in ancient China, but it is not clear that it refers to the rehabilitation of offenders. Many of the references are to rehabilitation in its almost literal sense of rehousing (relocation of displaced persons, eg. after wars) or specifically refer to rehabilitation of patients in mental institutions.

 

I suspect that I am right and that it was, at best, a very low priority in the prison system pre-WW2.

 

I also suspect that I am right in suggesting that prisons are not suitable places in which to attempt to deliver rehabilitation programs. But I am willing to be convinced otherwise.


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#19 Steve May

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:33 PM

You are welcome to your view, of course.

 

I have tried  to find references to "rehabilitation of offenders" from before 1945, but cannot find any conclusive references.

 

It goes back to people like Elizabeth Fry.   She might not have used quite the same terminology, but the concept of rehabilitation was definitely there.  She was sufficiently important in this field that she's on the back of the five pound note.


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#20 gingerjon

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 05:28 AM

She was sufficiently important in this field that she's on the back of the five pound note.

Being removed to make way for Churchill though.

There's the starting point for a discussion about what we value now ...
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