Monday, June 20, 2011

Dead Duck

It looks as if Ken Clarke's plan to bring in 50% sentence discounts for early guilty pleas has bitten the dust. I can fully accept the benefits of reducing stress on victims and witnesses, because an appearance in court can be a gruelling experience, even for the witness who is not on trial, and the reduction in prisoner numbers would have provided welcome cash savings, but this is one reform that the public isn't having, if my wholly unscientific opinion sampling in the pub is anything to go by. As I have written before relatively few prisoners were sent inside by magistrates, our effective maximum sentence being just a matter of a few weeks. I sit fairly often, but it is quite uncommon to have to pronounce an immediate prison sentence.
The real scandal in our crammed prisons is twofold; the substantial proportion of inadequate, mentally disturbed and/or addicted prisoners who are really a healthcare rather than a justice problem, and above all the disgracefully misconceived IPP sentences that have swollen prisoner numbers in a callous and unplanned way.

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