Thursday, 31 May 2007

Thousands of Criminals to Escape Justice

The sentencing of criminals should be decided by the seriousness of the crime, not by prison capacity. This seems a fairly obvious statement unfortunately, despite Blair's "tough on crime" slogans the government does not agree.

It has emerged that the government will not keep building prisons which will result in thousands of criminals escaping jail. Justice Minister Lord Falconer said offenders currently given sentences of less than a year should in future receive community punishments instead. He added "More offenders who are not considered a threat to the public and who would face a term of 12 months or less must be dealt with in the community. Of course dangerous criminals should still be given custodial sentences, but we need to get to the point at which the prison service is able to meet the demands placed upon it by the courts."

On Tuesday, inmate numbers reached a record 80,846. There are fears the court service and Police cells, which are providing overflow cells could run out of space later this week. Lord Falconer is desperately seeking ways of solving the crisis, but is running into great difficulty with Downing Street which is desperately attempting to preserve what remains of Tony Blair’s legacy on crime, and is blocking the early release of up to 3,000 inmates to create space.

I hate to be the one to tell Downing Street but Blair's "legacy on crime" would be laughable if it was not so devastating.

Just to add to the position of overcrowding when the smoking ban comes in on July 1, doubling up in cells will be limited by a new right for nonsmoking prisoners to refuse to share a cell with a smoker. Now why people who are in PRISON should have any rights other than a cell, meals and clothing is a mystery to me. Prison is punishment for a CRIME they CHOSE to commit. If they did not want to be stuck in a cell with someone who smokes they should not have committed a crime in the first place. Pandering to prisoners cell requests should result in criminals who should be in prison being set free due to lack of space.

An estimated 60,000 to 70,000 criminals each year are given up to 12 months in jail. This will translate to 60,000 to 70,000 free criminals who will not serve any jail sentence. Burglars are one of the groups of criminals who will benefit most so I would not forget to lock your doors.

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