Another "right On" Liberal Professor Living On Another Planet?

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ToraToraTora | 10:54 Wed 14th Aug 2013 | News
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/// Nowhere have I said or implied that these criminals should be free to walk the streets. ///

Well if you don't want them 'locked up', then how else do you intend to prevent them from 'walking the streets'?

/// I wonder whom you are quoting there, AOG...///
I think we should outsource our jails to Thailand or Turkey. For 'lifers' hand over a sum of cash and let them sort it.

Longer, proper sentences for those that are caught, not the right-on minimum ones we often see usually due to the ECHR.

More effort in catching the criminals, support the police not the criminal but put more into rehabilitation (at the end of a proper sentence in a proper jail - no tv's playstatiosn etc etc)

No, it wont deter all, but if behind bars then they cannot offend.
Your agreement with the good professor and what you say in your answer are somewhat at odds, Andy.

From the professor’s pamphlet:

“…he rejects the idea that people who continually commit property offences should eventually be imprisoned, given that the offence remains non-violent, non-threatening and non-sexual and that there is no evidence to suggest prison would be a more effective punishment for such a person.”

But you recommend that “…if offenders persist, then punishments should increase in proportion, leading to prison. “

And this is precisely what happens at present. It is virtually unheard of for an offender appearing before Magistrates for the first time having been charged with a minor offence (let’s say one restricted to Magistrates’ sentencing powers of six months custody) to go to prison. In fact a large number of minor offences have to be committed and a number of different disposals tried before immediate custody for such offences is considered. I’m afraid the professor’s notion that the continual committal of low-level crime must not result in incremental sentences which ultimately lead to prison is totally at odds with most people’s notion of justice.

There is one other important fact which Professor Ashworth seems to have overlooked (either accidentally or wilfully) and that is this: every other sentencing option apart from custody requires co-operation from those convicted. Here’s a typical scenario: An offender is convicted of a crime for which six month’s custody is an available option. But it is fairly low level, it’s his first offence and so he is dealt with by way of a conditional discharge. All he has to do is stay out of trouble. But he reoffends, is brought to court, is handed a fine, to be paid at £5 per week. He refuses to pay and again reoffends. This time he is made subject of a community order with unpaid work. He fails to turn up for his work. He is brought back to court (having reoffended in the meantime) and makes it quite clear that he will not co-operate with any orders the court makes. So what does the court do now? All the offences he has committed fit into Prof Ashworth’s “purely property” category (and fairly low level at that) but thus far he has received no punishment whatsoever for any of them and is unlikely to do so under the professor’s regime. So the court’s options are limited to imposing a sentence which they know will not be complied with or sending him on his way. The scenario I described is is not an unusual situation for Magistrates to face and if their option of custody is removed we may as well close all the Magistrates’ courts and save even more money. Custody has to be an available option.

In the UK you are far less likely to go to prison for low level offences than you are elsewhere in western Europe. In relation to the number of crimes committed we sentence far fewer people to custody. The reason the UK has a high prison population is simply because we have a far greater number of people committing crimes. The deal between the State and the individual is that individuals cannot exact punishment from those who offend against them. Instead the State does so on their behalf. But if the punishment loses its credibility, as I believe it will if custody is not ultimately available, then that deal similarly loses its value.
Oh, ok, thanks for the link. If you read on you'll see that it finishes with "it does not necessarily follow that there is a direct causal link between [an almost doubled murder rate] and the abolition of capital punishment."
/The last crime that could be loosely called a highway robbery was called "The Great Train Robbery" know anything differently? /

Hardly true aog

attacks on cash-carrying security vans (on the HIGHWAY) were quite frequent until very recently when crime-preventing technological developments have been a major deterrent

And I think you'll find that thefts from and of, HGVs is still a serious problem though that is also being deterred by tracking technology.

Back to the important point:

Anyone who thinks that the current 'liberal' approach to prison has been tried and failed really doesn't know much about prisons other than the stereotypes fed to them by the right wing tabloids.

For a start, a fundamental element (for many years now) was supposed to be an emphasis on rehabilitation; training, education, counselling etc combined with close support on release to help ex-cons go straight. The principle being that any investment therein is much less than the cost of reoffending.

Guess what? That strategy has always been short-changed and fudged by successive governments.
Experiences in other countries continue to show its value but short-termist bean counters tend to win the argument in Britain.

And in the recession, that is hardly likely to improve, just when also, the chances of ex-cons finding an honest living is at a low-point.

Look thieves up for two years, three years, ten years ....

They will more than likely return to the ways they know because the supposed efforts to give them an option have been largely substituted by lip service, box ticking and the usual political smokescreen.

Question Author
Well explained judge and thanks for making the effort to do it. However you have overlooked one thing. Those of the mind of the Professor and the general thinking of your card carrying liberal is that they do not accept that a criminal is at fault. They blame society for not meeting their needs and making crime unnecessary for them. So in their eyes the statre has no right to punish them.
/Those of the mind of the Professor and the general thinking of your card carrying liberal is that they do not accept that a criminal is at fault. They blame society for not meeting their needs and making crime unnecessary for them. So in their eyes the statre has no right to punish them. /

Really TTT

Do you have any evidence for that?

A link to a treatise from such a 'liberal professor' perhaps?

I'd hate to think it was just some nonsense you made up without any professional experience or training in the subject?
Question Author
Well it's the impression they give. Remember Lord Longford?

What's your opinion of Longford got to do with this

When was Longford a Professor of anything let alone Law?

He was an aristocrat, PSB and gained a philosophy degree whereupon he embarked on a career in politics, campaigning and taking Myra Hindley biscuits.

Hardly relevant to a discussion on the learned opinions of a respected specialist who has spent a career in academic study of sentencing and its effects and has worked with our judiciary for many years.

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