Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Public Opinion

Recent inquiries highlighted a broad public view that prison sentences are too low. ‘Twas ever so.

But before we leap on this view and start a "something must be done" bandwagon, did anybody bother to find out if The Public had any idea what current sentences actually are???
An ill-informed opinion in more dangerous than honest ignorance -something which has blighted criminal justice for generations.


  1. Dame Davina PancakeJune 2, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Whilst I am not really in a position to comment on whether sentences are generally too low, the one thing that I find profoundly disturbing are indeterminate sentences. However heinous a crime, I believe that on sentencing someone should be given an absolutely clear indication of the time that they will be expected to serve (with the exception, I think, of people who are sent into the mental health care system such as Sutcliffe, where a clearly defined sentence might simply not be possible).

    Davina x

  2. Well said Davina - hundreds of prisoners are still being held in prison on indeterminate sentences with less than two years tariff, even though the law changed some considerable time ago. Some of these prisoners are still inside 3/4 years beyond their tariff. Inhumane, barbaric and unjust springs to mind. Same of course for Ben. I agree with Ben and lots of the general public are not even aware that prisoners are being held for years and years beyond a tariff. Most people just believe the media statements about people being 'let off' etc. Keep strong Ben. x

  3. You mean informing the victims that their rapist for example doesn't actual get 4 years, he is automatically considered for release after 2, plus the 6 months on remand is knocked off so he only actualy serves 18 months of a 5 year sentence?

  4. Anon,

    What you say would be a valid point, were it true.

    The problem with IPPs is that prisoners may be "considered" for release, but that doesn't actually mean they will be released. Ben, for example, has been being "considered for release" for the last 21 years. IPPs mean relatively minor crimes could lead to virtual life sentences.

    Your comment makes it very clear that there is a great deal of ignorance surrounding this subject and I agree with Mary: the press are not helping.

  5. Anonymous at 5.24. This helps to demonstrate my point about what the public believes - the 6 months on remand is time served - which means in your example the rapiost would have been inside for 2 years not 18 months. Do you mean the example rapist gets a 4 year sentence? If he gets a 5 year one he would not be considered till half way. Muddled.

    Wigarse is right - some of the early IPP sentences were given for less serious offences and it is these people who are still in prison several years later.


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