Sunday, February 24, 2008

Crime Without Time

History has taught us that for a totalitarian state to develop, it is necessary for the State to take control of the legislature, the press and the judiciary. That's why I'm very sensitive when a government start interfering in any one of these.

Take Jack Straw's comment that Magistrates should send fewer people to jail. Here we have the government attempting to hassle the judiciary into making decisions that will take the political heat out of the scandal surrounding the government's inability to build enough prisons to lock up all the people deserving of being locked up.

In a perfect country (heck, even in the US) it would never be tolerable that the executive branch of government should have the nerve to tell the judiciary how to do their jobs.

Let's get this straight : It is Jack Straw's government's job to build and maintain enough prisons to meet the country's need. It is the Magistrates' job to sentence offenders depending on the seriousness of their crime.

Or to put it anyother way : it should NOT be Jack Straw's government's job to interfere in sentencing and it should NOT be down to Magistrates to worry about whether there will be a prison place available for a convicted criminal that they sentence to prison.

The public are already convinced that the courts are "too soft". Plus, the Probation Service is as swamped as the Prison Service and wouldn't be able to take on the extra load of community sentences given to people who by rights should be prison.

So we'll either have to cross-fingers and hope that people stop committing crime (current government policy by the looks of it) or go out and build enough prisons.

There should not be a third option that involves browbeating Magistrates. I hope Magistrates ignore this (and any future) politically motivated diktat from central government.


ArcticFox said...

AS I understand it there are still large tracts of Australia that are not yet used up!!


Kenny said...

Foxy -- good point. I think I might go and rob a bank.

Seriously though, the US is possibly the worst offender for having courts run by the government. The appelate and supreme courts are the most partisan I can think of in any democracy. The problem with partisan politics is that it breeds and infects every other walk of life: education, religion, justice, burgers, you-name-it.

What we are witnessing in the UK is very worrying. Whether it be councils issuing motoring tickets from traffic cameras to DNA databases, it's slowly going to hell in a hand-basket. What freedoms we do have left are being eroded faster than the Whitby coastline. I don't know about totalitarian but somewhere there has to be a backlash to this creeping poison and (yawn) we will end up being the 51st state (if we are not already).

God, how depressing.

ArcticFox said...

The answer is pre-crime like in minority report!!

I have seen the future, and you're all bleeped!!


Anonymous said...

Many magistrates have already been told that we 'cannot' award unpaid work hours, as there is not enough budget to administer it. This would be seen as, sometimes, a viable alternative to incarceration. Hey soon it will be like youth court where legislation has already been passed which means that unless it is a 'grave' crime we (I'm a mag guv, lock me up) can only give a referral order (read slap on wrist)

Stan said...

Cheers, Anonymous - that's cheery stuff from one who obviously knows.

I had to go read this which describes what a referral order is. The more I read of candy-assed schemes like this, the more Sharia Law starts to appeal. Heck, Denis Law even.

Silly sods couldn't even spell "Reintegration" right, which is a bit of a worry.