Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sentencing Poll Part 2

Thanks very much to everyone who voted in the poll - at nearly 600 replies that's a decent sample, albeit a sample of blog readers. The percentages remained remarkably consistent from the start, with about two-thirds of people plumping for the sentence that we actually passed. About a quarter wanted supervision without the big stick of suspended prison, but the common theme was the need for treatment, coupled with a greater or lesser emphasis on punishment.

Points:- I was surprised at the lack of enthusiasm for unpaid work (although that may be my fault for the way I presented the original post) because benches often consider that to be the next step down the ladder of punishment from a prison sentence. The handful who went for a conditional discharge would very likely have been criticised for under-sentencing and the clerk would have had a duty to point out case law and sentencing practice when the bench checked its sentence for legality.

My main point is that I think this is one of the rare instances where the informed public pitches its sentence below that of some practising magistrates. I am working on pure hunch here, but I suspect that quite a few benches, possibly as many as a quarter, would, while appreciating the man's problems, feel obliged to sentence the offence and not the offender and send the man directly inside. There is a perfectly valid argument that the public expect to see anyone in this position imprisoned, and that it would be a proper deterrent. For myself, I fall on the rehabilitation side of the fence, but that doesn't mean that I am right, nor that my more punitive colleagues are wrong. Making a judgement is what we are there to do, after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.