Sunday, 30 March 2008

Crime and Punishment

Ok, so what's the solution to the prison overcrowding crisis?

Is it

a) release prisoners early
b) release prisoners early, especially if they are convicted terrorists
c) hand out more community sentences in place of custodial ones
d) forget that your slogan was 'tough on crime, tough on the causes blah blah blah'
e) none of the above

Well there's no denying that we are in a sticky spot right now. You can play the blame game and start to slag off our elected masters, questioning why they let things get to this state. That's a fun game but it doesn't actually move you too much closer to the solution.

Of course you could take the view that the next set of elected masters could do better and wait around until you get a chance to vote them in. That might work, but it takes time. And the NoBollocksPolitician tends to anticipate much of the same from the next lot, even if they do sport an attractive - though differently coloured - rosette.

The problem is here and now. So what to do.

Well, sorry liberals and human rights activists. You're not going to care much for this view.

Perhaps we should think about our standards, you know, the one's that say that a prisoner has a right to a certain level of treatment.

The average prisoner - notwithstanding the ones who suffered terrible miscarriages of justice and found themselves incarcerated innocents - go to where he is by being a bad person.

Now I am not actually much of an advocate of free will (but that's a topic for another blog). But until someone comes along that can give me a better explanation for the cause and effect of human actions, I'm going to have to conclude that people who do bad things do so out of choice, by and large, and in the full knowledge of what may/will be the consequences.

If they choose to be the bad guy then they have to accept that the effect is punishment. And if that means they lose some eligibility to be treated as a full member of society, then so be it.

To my way of thinking, if there are more bad guys at the moment than we can cope with at the existing level of allowed 'rights', then the 'rights' have to be diminished.

If that means more people to a prison, so be it.
It that means more people to a prison cell, so be it.
If that means lower standards of living behind bars, so be it.
If that means we pay to build more prisons, fast, so be it.

The basic right of the citizen, the innocent upon whom the criminal preys, should not be diminished. He or she should be assured that no matter how many bad guys are caught they will all be punished according to the law. And that does not mean that they will stand they chance of winning the 'prison full' lottery and getting out into society again ahead of time.

My thoughts. Yours?


steadyneddy said...

How sad that criminals seem have more rights than their victims... how even more sad that the Government appears to deem this as the norm. Over recent years calls for the re-instatement of the death penalty have been made, but to be honest I doubt it would make much impact on the crime figures. In a justice system that rewards criminals, denegrates the rights of victims, falls over its own feet so that many who should be brought to justice are allowed to go free, and a system that promotes the "you can't touch me guv'na" syndrome amongst the young, I very much doubt sticking additional fangs on an already decrepid dog will do much good. Somehow the old adage of 'an eye for an eye' seems far more just and appropriate for the scum we have hanging about on our street corners. I'm sure the victims of their crimes would agree!

MrVeg said...

I think you have a point - successive governments do appear increasingly to enhance the rights of the criminal at the expense of the victim. But are governments the cause or the effect? Are our representatives lagging behind public opinion or leading it? If you asked the man on the Clapham omnibus I feel sure that he would opine that sentences are too lenient, policing underfunded, youth lacking in respect and crime on the increase. Our leaders often recite stats and figures that seem to prove otherwise. I'm painfully aware that there is a tendency of people my age to look back fondly on the 'good old days' and ignore progress where it genuinely has been made. And that the press is selective, that bad news sells better than good. But for all that there do remain some real iniquities in our justice system, some real cases of the law being too lenient of the aggressor. I believe it is the responsibility of society as a whole to point these out to our lawmakers and push for closure of these gaps.