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November 30, 2005

Crime, punishment and rehabilitation

The UK's jail population is once more in the news with the usual band of whinging liberals wringing their hands over the "overcrowding" and "lack of facilities" for "rehabilitation". While I have some sympathy for those affected by having a partner or parent in jail, we do seem to lose sight of the fact that most of those in this position are there because they seem to be pathologically unable to recognise the fact that they do not have a right to take what is not theirs, beat up anyone they dislike or to kill someone for their skin colour, sexual orientation or any other "provocation".

Listening to a spokeswoman for the usual bunch of "youff" criminal protectionistas, the SPCC - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, but increasingly seemingly the Society for the Protection of Child Criminals or even the Society for Promotion of Child Criminality - having a parent in jail is the major cause of 61% of our "youff" becoming criminals themselves. It never seems to enter into these airheads vacuum filled crania that there might be a combination of abusive "home" life (something they seem to insist is to be preserved and perpetuated despite its patent clash with their proper title!), the influence of their criminally inclined syblings and peers and possibly even a genetic defect or link. All of that would mean ditching all the psycho-babble they have mouthed since the advent of Dr Spock's now discredited book on child rearing which he himself admitted never having followed!

The result of this constant fear of punishing the guilty is all to plain to see, the jails are full, yes, but if you look at who is in them, a large proportion are there for "crimes" that include driving too fast, non-payment of council tax and similar examples of "middle class" crime. Murderers, burglars, muggers and the like are out "on license" or on bail or wearing the electronic tags that allow them to carry out more murders, robberies and muggings! Yes, it is scandalous that we have such a high jail population, it is even more scandalous when you realise that this is a direct result of leniency and tolerance of criminal behaviour among children from an early age. Think only of the two boys who murdered little Jamie Bulger. They are now comfortably resettled under new identities - some say in Australia - and free to live their lives in anonimity or to commit even more crimes in future.

This despite the fact that several assessments of both of these "boys" in their time in jail recorded the fact that one in particular was manipulative and violent tempered. The other was a gullible follower. I have some sympathy with the second of those tow, but experience recently in my own community of having to deal with out of control children of the first sort tells me that it is merely a matter of time before we see as horrific an event as the killing of littel Jamie played out again by a group of "children".

Building more jails may not be the answer, but perhaps sentences which mean a severe loss of freedom and which are commensurate with the crime, locking up the really criminal instead of the minor offenders who haven't paid parking fines, skipped council tax or have offended some "moralist" law against calling a spade a spade. That, and a realistic look at what drives our youth into crime without dragging in all the 1960's garbage about pampering and coddling. Let's get real, life is tough, it isn't a perfectly safe environment and never will be, we have to take some knocks and learn some lessons the hard way.

Maybe the jail population figures are telling us we have the whole argument wrong on crime, punishment and rehabilitation. Maybe we have gone to far down the road of excusing bad behaviour and rewarding it. Maybe its time to teach by punishing it again.

Posted by The Gray Monk at November 30, 2005 11:50 AM

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You said it well. I wish more thought like you did.

Posted by: VW Bug at November 30, 2005 06:14 PM