Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Prison a good option - for tax defaulters

The government's hypocrisy over prison sentencing has been well pointed out in the following comments which come from a former porbation officer who was fired for trying to do his job properly:

The case of the 69 year old tax protester being imprisoned demonstrates four things:
1) Apparently there are sufficient places in prison. If there were not, the government has used a place to imprison someone who represented no risk of harm to the public in lieu of allocating the place to a dangerous offender who should have been removed from society for public protection.

2) Community sentences don't work. If the government believe that the Probation Service's "Interventions" programmes are so successful at reforming offending behaviour, why was this woman not considered? I suspect that many of the junkies that Josephine Rooney have complained about blighting her neighborhood are offenders being "supervised" in the community. Had Rooney been offered the support of a compassionate criminal justice system, it's almost certain that she would have seen the "error" of her ways and paid the fine, being yet just another in a long string of successes at reforming offenders.

3) The government's actions in jailing Rooney for (3) months for failure to pay a 798.97 tax bill belie their position that jail is just too costly. I believe that I read somewhere that the cost of incarcerating an offender for one year was over 70K. If that number is correct, they will have squandered 17,5K banging up the pensioner.

4) they agree with you partly that there should be no mitigation for certain offenses. Rooney will have to serve the FULL (3) months of her sentence in custody, but a violent offender will be cut loose at the halfway point. Her case clearly indicates that the government doesn't believe the BS that they're peddling to the public.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Equal rights for all

Regarding yesterday’s blog which also appeared in the Wales on Sunday I have received the following complaint which has gone off to various organisations. My responses are in brackets.

Complaint against:

David Davies MP for Monmouthshire and the Wales on Sunday newspaper

Re: Article published on page 10 headlined ‘A crude form of justice’ published on Sunday 26th June 2006.

I am absolutely appalled by the article written by David Davies about the story of the young man Jody Dobrowski, who was savagely beaten to death by two men in London. In the article David Davies categorically states that the only reason the long prison sentence was imposed was because the victim was gay, this is totally and completely unacceptable and homophobic. (One may or may not agree with the statement but why does this make it "homophobic" or unnaceptable?)

There is absolutely no basis for this comment, (Oh yes there is look at what Stonewall say )it has no basis in fact whatsoever. ('It's absolutely right that murder motivated by hatred of minority communities should be treated with this sort of severity.'said Stonewall Chief Executive - but what about the majority community?

In stating this David Davies has clearly made an issue yet again of someone's sexuality, (Not at all he was the victim of an unprovoked murder and it was right that those responisible should be severely punished) he claims in the article that he wants these types of sentences handed out regardless of whether the victim is gay, straight black or white. (Quite true and what is wrong with wanting equal rights for all victims)
If this is the case then why make an issue of this case? (Because it demonstrates that we are not equal before the eyes of the law) It can only be for one reason and that is because the victim was gay. He goes on to say that if the victim had been heterosexual then the sentence would have been much shorter. This is preposterous and outrageous, and he doesn’t seek to back this up with any facts or examples of other cases,(This is another quote from Stonewall: "The 28 year sentences were increased to reflect the way in which the killing was aggravated by homophobia")
just a further attempt by David Davies to divide homosexuals and heterosexuals with bigoted insinuations. (Divisions between homosexuals and hetrosexuals are more likely to increase if the law puts more value on the lives of one group than the other)

The article he has written is a complete contradiction and straight out of the mouth of someone espousing the principles of the BNP, (Now you're gettting hysterical) he claims to want long harsh sentences for these types of crimes (yes I do) but then complains its because the victim was gay,(no I wasn't I welcomed the sentences) this is absolutely disgraceful, would he made a similar statement if the victim was black,(yes ) highly unlikely but if he had he would have been condemned as racist (doubtless by someone else who hadn't the comments properly) and quite rightly so. Essentially a young man was brutally murdered, the murderers got a long sentence, what’s his problem? (None at all as I kept saying) If he’s insinuating that long sentences are handed out to those who only commit crimes against gay people, then let him produce the evidence, (see above) this article is as unintelligent as it is crass.

I believe this article is offensive, mis-leading and homophobic, it will reinforce the very negative attitudes towards gay people in society, it also contradicts the attitude of the new leadership of the London based Conservative Party. In allowing the article to be printed I believe the Wales on Sunday have fallen below the standard expected from a national newspaper in terms of responsible reporting, in this instance I believe the WOS have been irresponsible and insensitive.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Justice for all

In a rare victory for common sense two men who murdered a random stranger were given long prison sentences last week. Hopefully they will never be released, but they will at least spend a minimum of 28 years in prison. One thing concerns me. The sentence was only this long because their victim was gay. Had he been heterosexual the sentence would have been much shorter. Is this fair? The random murder of strangers is a horrendous crime whether the victim is gay or straight, black or white. Equality before the eyes of the law is a basic principle and I expect the law to protect my fellow citizens regardless of their skin colour or sexual orientation. If a gang of thugs carry out a brutal attack on an innocent passer-by then they should face life behind bars regardless of their twisted motives. A thousand years ago the Anglo Saxon tribes who inhabited these isles operated a system called Wergild by which the penalty for a crime was determined by the social status if the victim. Today, with a murderer’s penalty being dependent not on their crime, but on the victim’s minority status, we seem to be regressing to a similarly crude form of justice.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Engerrland Engerrland Engerrland

I don’t follow football. I have attended one match in my life, and I would struggle to name more than two members of the English team. This is, you will agree, a shocking confession from a politician - after all we are constantly meant to show how “in touch” we are. But there is hope for me yet. My neighbour Dave is a fanatic who will organise parties and bar-b-ques around the games so I will no doubt be enjoying a few of the matches. And this Welsh speaking descendent of Glyndwr will certainly be cheering for England. What is it with us Welsh that we have to perpetuate hatreds that go back hundreds of years? It smacks of chippiness and a sense of inferiorority. When Wales play rugby against France most English people cheer for Wales. And so they should. It’s about time we grew up a bit and started displaying a little more self confidence.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This week an answer arrived to a question which I had put to the Home Secretary admitting that over 50 people who had been sentenced to life imprisonment since 2000 have already been released back onto the streets. Nothing could better demonstrate the extent to which the public are being deceived over prison sentencing. Life should mean life, most people think it means ten years or more, but all too often it can mean less than five.

If our system of justice was working properly than Craig Sweeney, who had already been convicted of a serious sexual assault against a child and released from prison only to abduct another little girl would face spending the rest of his life behind bars. Instead he could be back on the streets within five years. Judges, parole boards and the Home Office are failing us.