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The need for a tougher punishment for crime and criminals

Follow We are very confused about crime and punishment — especially the purpose of the latter. Or at least I am.

  • Next month, a new Sentencing Council starts work to issue guidelines to courts and monitor the impact of new legislation;
  • A further 42 per cent said this had happened occasionally and only 9 per cent said it had never happened;
  • He'd want them in prison;
  • There are countless crimes that have been committed that were done by people who had been arrested for similar offenses in the past, but were able to get off on plea bargains, community service, rehab programs, etc.

A report from the National Audit Office last week showed that nearly two thirds of offenders sentenced to less than 12 months custody re-offend within a year of release. This was taken as a good reason for dispensing with short jail terms and focusing more on community penalties, even though these are no more likely to stop re? Yet of one thing we can be certain: It is also a myth that persistent offenders are sent to prison at the drop of a hat.

The courts go out of their way to avoid custody if possible, reaching for a suite of alternative orders, discharges, warnings and cautions before sending an offender down. It is a last resort — and even when imposed, only half the sentence will be served in custody, the remainder being under the supervision of the probation services.

We might all be a little more amenable to the arguments against short-term prison sentences for recidivist criminals if they were not handed out to people who patently do not deserve them.

Longer prison terms really do cut crime, study shows

Nick Hogan, 43, from Chorley, has just been released after being jailed for six months for failing to pay fines for smoking-ban breaches at his two Bolton pubs. Hogan was the first person imprisoned as a result of the prohibition on smoking in public places in England.

  1. The report declares this to be "a substantial effect, especially when we consider that the length of sentence usually corresponds to approximately half the actual time spent in custody". All we want is a system where the punishment fits the crime.
  2. The full report is available online at lordashcroft. These crimes could have been prevented if that person was either still in jail, or too afraid to risk the consequences of committing the crime.
  3. We will never know. It is a last resort — and even when imposed, only half the sentence will be served in custody, the remainder being under the supervision of the probation services.

He could not afford to pay but it never crossed his mind, or occurred to many of us for that matter, that letting smokers light up when everyone in the pub, both customers and staff were happy for them to puff away, might lead to jail. As his wife, Denise, said: He didn't want to change the law, he just thought if people wanted to smoke it should be their choice.

We never expected him to go to jail. He hasn't harmed anybody and he isn't a criminal.

It

After 11 days inside, he was released when friends and campaigners raised the cash, which was delivered by a masked man calling himself Old Holborn. What a parable for our times this is. Where was the anti?

I think so..

Why did the lobby that condemns short custodial terms for common thieves not put their hands in their pockets for Hogan's freedom collection? More than that, why are they so silent when sentences for serious criminals are so disproportionately weak? Peter Chapman, the vile killer of Ashleigh Hall, the teenager who met him on Facebook, had previously spent five years in jail for raping two women at knife-point.

How is that possible?

  • Clarke has been involved in a long-running dispute with one of his Tory predecessors, Michael Howard, whose mantra that "prison works" became associated with his time at the Home Office;
  • This approach increased the prison population, but it also led to reductions in overall levels of crime.

Frances Inglis, who killed the son she loved with a dose of heroin because he was in a coma from which she feared he would never recover, is serving at least 10 years in jail. How could that possibly merit twice the punishment meted out to Chapman? Next month, a new Sentencing Council starts work to issue guidelines to courts and monitor the impact of new legislation. Judges fear that this body will further remove their discretion to impose jail terms that meet the requirements of justice.

Judge Keith Cutler, vice-president of the Council of Circuit Judges, said the Sentencing Council requires that judges "must follow" guidelines, rather than "take account" of them.

The hope was that the existence of the council would reduce the use of custody. But in the present climate it is unlikely to issue guidelines that are more lenient.

  • The researchers concluded that prison was particularly effective in reducing property crime when targeted at serious and repeat offenders;
  • It abandoned the "prison works" policy put forward by then Home Secretary Michael Howard in 1993 - in a speech written by his then adviser, David Cameron - and followed by the Conservatives until the General Election;
  • Mr Clarke has repeatedly spoken of the need for "rigorously enforced community sentences that punish offenders" instead of prison sentences, as well as claiming the public's fear of crime was exaggerated;
  • The findings tend to support the thrust of policies followed by the last Labour government, which increased funding to the police and concentrated on the roughly 100,000 persistent offenders responsible for a high proportion of crime;
  • How could that possibly merit twice the punishment meted out to Chapman?
  • The research was commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, who said that it was a warning that the Conservative party risks "undermining an important part of its appeal" by failing to deliver on law and order.

Imagine the public outcry. Burglars who go armed or leave their victim particularly traumatised could be handed a community order. You are not alone. All we want is a system where the punishment fits the crime. Where real offenders go to jail and those who patently are not criminals are treated accordingly. After goodness knows how many criminal justice Bills in its time in office 60 and counting you might have thought the Government would have created one by now.