As a response to any comment from a prisoner, the statement, 'if you can't do the time, don't do the crime' is my favourite.
I love it so much because it reveals that the light in the eyes of the person saying it isn't generated by the intellect behind the eyeballs; it is a reflection from the strip-lighting.
Any exchange around criminal justice is littered with these banal, trite and plain moronic sound-bites. They are the warning signs that public debate and education is in a perilous state. Let us unpack this one, shall we, and explore the depths of its vacuousness.
"If you can't do the time..." assumes that criminals make a wonderfully calculated decision to offend, weighing up the pros-and cons before embarking on whichever course of wickedness catches their attention.
Um, doh! Criminality just isn't like that. Contrary to popular belief, criminals are humans and humans make decisions on a range of factors - and none at all. A heroin addict looking for the next tenner is not a perfect calculating machine. So we can extract that piece of stupidity from the "if you can't do the time..." statement.
More importantly, it assumes a prior knowledge of the 'pains of imprisonment'. Without that understanding, then no meaningful calculation is possible. And even those who have been to prison before are wrong-footed, as prisons change.
So, if the very best contribution that your intellect has to offer to the debate is, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime", then feel free to think twice - and still say nothing at all. Please. For the sake of the rest of us, I beg you.