Saturday, 15 August 2009

Bleeding Hearts On Parade: II

And no sooner has the prisoner’s pal Anne Owers had her say, but the yob’s friend Martin Narey is taking out an onion for the poor wee baa-lambs locked up behind bars:
Children as young as 12 are being wrongly imprisoned in England and Wales, breaking government guidelines, says the charity Barnardo's.

Its report says that confusion over the criteria for youth courts led to more than 165 under-15s being wrongly given custodial sentences in 2007.
You mean, Nu Labour’s constant meddling with the justice system is causing havoc?

There’s a shock
Barnardo's said locking up so many children was a "tragedy".
Probably not for the people they’d terrorised, but there seems, unaccountably, to be no ‘normal taxpayer charity’ soaking up large funding streams from central government to produce reports like these.

Odd, that…
The law specifically states that children aged 14 and under should not be locked up unless they have committed a grave offence or have committed a serious offence and are deemed to be a persistent offender.

But the Barnado's report found more than a third of 12 to 14-year-olds locked up did not meet the conditions.
Bet this is going to come down to hair-splitting over what constitutes ‘grave or serious’ offences?

Yup, me too:
Barnardo's surveyed around half of all children who were put in young offender institutions in 2008.

More than a fifth were locked up for breaching an Anti-social Behaviour Order or similar punishment, half were victims of abuse and more than a third were living with an adult criminal.
Well, the first example shouldn’t exist because we shouldn’t have ASBOs in place of proper offences, but we do, and breaching them means prison. It might not meet with the approval of the ‘charity’ but it’s the law of the land.

What’s the second got to do with the price of tea? Should we not lock up young thugs who have been abuse victims?

And why should the third be a reason not to send them to prisons? In fact, it sounds like a good reason to at least remove them from the home environment to prevent further indoctrination into the criminal lifestyle.
Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey said that until 1998 it would have been illegal to imprison these young people unless they had committed one of the so-called "grave offences".

"Now we do this, every year, to more than 400 children aged 12, 13 and 14.

"This is a tragedy for the young people themselves, it's a shocking waste of money and, in terms of reducing their offending and doing anything to protect victims, it is almost invariably ineffective.
Note the ‘until 1998’. In other words, it’s legal now. So why is Narey whining about it?

And as for not doing anything to protect victims, well, while behind bars, they aren’t terrorising the community. Are they?

But as with the Anne Owers report, this has also roused the hive-mind into action:
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "We know that sending children to prison is expensive and ineffective, with three-quarters reoffending within a year of release.

"Yet we still persist in sending thousands of our most vulnerable young people into corrosive youth custody every year. We need sentences that work, not those that lead children into more trouble."
OK, Juliet. We’ll billet them with you, shall we? Put your money where your mouth is…
Committee chairman Sir Alan Beith said: "We know that custody does not work to reduce reoffending, and that it does not have a deterrent effect on young people, because their crimes are usually opportunistic and impulsive, so it is vital that effective alternatives are available."
He doesn’t say what….

12 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

"1998" not "1198"

Agreed to all of that. Just lock the f***ers up for longer, a lot longer, until they're about 35, then let 'em out again provisionally - any messing about and they're back in for life.

There's no reason not to make prison reasonably comfortable for them - it's not punishment, it's just recognising the fact that some people are little better than animals.

James Higham said...

Well, the first example shouldn’t exist because we shouldn’t have ASBOs in place of proper offences, but we do, and breaching them means prison.

Look, they've committed offences. They're not little dears or needing understanding. They need either some incarceration or a long stint of community work. Where are the parents of these ASBOs anyway?

JuliaM said...

""1998" not "1198""

Gah! Well spotted, thnx! Fixed.


"...then let 'em out again provisionally - any messing about and they're back in for life."

I suspect we'll need more jail space then. Fine with me!

JuliaM said...

"Where are the parents of these ASBOs anyway?"

Probably in prison themselves!

Witterings From Witney said...

Agreed Julia and also with MW other than I don't believe prison should be 'comfortable' - other than bed, food, washing facilities, prison should be a punishment so why should prisoners have the benefits of a society whose laws they could not follow? I would also make sure that the key was thrown away!

David Gillies said...

Yep, the principal benefit of the prison system in a society where we have apparently agreed that these people cannot simply be garrotted and thrown down a hole is its prophylactic nature.

As a counterpoint, or corollary maybe, white collar crims would get a nice long stretch of porridge, but not in the low-cost Midnight Express locations where chavs, pikeys and DVD-nickers ended up. They might still be marginally rehabilitable.

BTW, there's nothing anti-libertarian in coming down like the hammer of God on thieves (which is what essentially all criminals are under a libertarian justice system).

ranter said...

To get to the point of a custodial sentence the offender will have been convicted many, many times previously (except for the most serious offences that is). All alternatives will have been tried. Custody in the UK is a LAST RESORT for all offenders of whatever age - this fact is never mentioned by liberal handwringers like Owers and Nairy. No one is just locked up for a first offence, a second, a third, even a fourth.
I'm only surprised there wasn't a mention of RAISING the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 18 (as has been mooted). If anything it should be LOWERED to 6.

Mark Wadsworth said...

@ JM, we won't need more prison space, as

1. When I am in charge, I will legalise and regulate drugs and brothels and so on and and I'll deport the ten per cent who are foreigners, so that frees up half of prison spaces for the real bad uns.

2. Keeping crim's locked up until age 35 or so stops them breeding like flies, so it would only be a short term increase. It would also have some deterrent effect etc.

@ WFW, like I said, these people are more like wild animals, which we keep in zoos. That's no reason to treat them deliberately badly, keeping them off the streets is the key to all this, as David G says.

Goodnight Vienna said...

This govt's criminal justice policy is criminally insane. I heard a radio interview with some chap from Haringey Council saying how we need to understand that locking them up does no good because there are so many drug-users amongst them and he called prisons 'a thieves' workshop'.

I'm worried that this view now seems the norm, the accepted baseline, but what worries me even more is that I see no evidence that Cameron's Conservatives will change anything.

Ian B said...

When I am in charge, I will legalise and regulate drugs and brothels and so on and and I'll deport the ten per cent who are foreigners, so that frees up half of prison spaces for the real bad uns.

When I am in charge, I'll just legalise drugs and brothels (bollocks to regulation, that's soooo twentieth century), then I'll appear on TV on the steps of Number 10 with a giant spliff and my arms around a pair of floozies, and proudly declare that Britain is now the fun capital of Europe.

I'm not at all convinced that prison is much use, really. Punishment ought to be cheap; reparations, floggings and exucutions, kind of thing. A huge fine to work off might well be a greater deterrent to a young miscreant than a spot in prison.

But then, guns will be legal and encouraged, so most teen tearaways will die young anyway.

Sometimes I'm so right wing, I frighten myself. Oooh!

blueknight said...

I was going to say what Ranter said, that most of these child criminals will have gone all the way through the justice system, with warnings, cautions, referral orders, DTTOs, etc. But if they keep offending, what else is left?

JuliaM said...

"As a counterpoint, or corollary maybe, white collar crims would get a nice long stretch of porridge..."

Or properly supervised community restitution?

"...we won't need more prison space, as..."

I like your manifesto!

"...guns will be legal and encouraged, so most teen tearaways will die young anyway."

Indeed...

"But if they keep offending, what else is left?"

Nothing. Which is why prison is the only option. Narey presents it as a case of young people straying off the straight and narrow once, then being unjustly persecuted for the rest of their lives.

I think he's been to see 'Les Miserables' one too many times...