Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Out of the box thinking...
According to our Justice Secretary Ken Clarke fewer people should go to goal, because – the argument goes – while the number of men and women behind bars has risen steadily, crime rates have not fallen and the public’s concern about crime has remained at a similar level.
Concern remained level?
Evidence is clear on one thing though and that is that the current sentencing policy doesn’t modify criminal behaviour one iota.
By the time a young offender has accumulated enough wrongdoing to finally earn a term in clink, they’ve already learned that they can ignore the law with impunity, or if caught at worst end up with a few weeks litter picking or even better an opportunity to steal the paint thinner for ‘sniffin’ in their curfew time while painting the park railings.
Because you see, these are people for whom deferred gratification is saving just enough BBQ sauce for the final chicken nugget; appealing to their long-term self interest and that of society is just so much wasted effort and money.
Sentencing if properly administered is supposed to serve two aims, retribution and rehabilitation. The consensus view I’d be willing to argue is that it doesn't achieve enough of either.
Justice needs to be seen to be done, all too often it is the victim who suffers not once but twice when the derisory sentencing is handed out.
But if the current sentencing policy doesn't work - and it doesn’t – then surely Einstein’s definition on madness must come into play: i.e. keeping on doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome.
So here's a truly ‘progressive’ and arguably ‘fair’ alternative Ken to run past your boss Dave;
Think about it for a moment!
Young people are excessively vain about their appearance. God knows with two young teenage children don’t I know about it!
Using liquid Nitrogen (painless so won’t offend the human rites brigade) to brand say a big 'T' on the forehead of a habitual thief or shoplifter, or 'V' for violent offenders, 'D' for druggies or ‘P’ for the pushers of such and so on would work as a disincentive like few other measures.
Trust me, it would affect fashion; the branded would affect hoodies or headbands to hide their brands that wound their vanity whilst honest citizens would expose their brows with pride.
If they continued to offend, we could become even more 'progressive' and move to those mediaeval fallbacks of public humiliation like the stocks and pillory or even nose-slitting and ear removal for the most habitual of offenders.
Maybe I am getting a bit carried away.
Or maybe not.
But let's start thinking out of the box here about crime and punishment; the current sentencing policy simply doesn’t work.
Has anybody got a better idea?