Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Numbskull Cracker

The so-called Skull Cracker is back in custody. So it's back to a closed prison, fresh charges of escaping, and an alleged new robbery, for someone who was in sight of eventual release.

Every now and again, on the low-level crimes that I deal with, I am tempted to say "Look matey, you are absolutely crap at this crime business. Why not try something else? You have buggered up your life, spending years in a small cell along with someone who is just as stupid as you. How long before it sinks in? Pack it in, you loser".

I mustn't say that though, but sometimes it's tempting.


  1. When you are sitting in an allocations court ( first appearances for bail/custody, magistrates/crown court decisions) you sometimes see people who have been socialised into life in prison. In many cases the hopelessness of their criminal enterprise is baffling except as a conscious or subconscious desire to get back to the horrible but orderly and uncomplicated life of the serving prisoner. The man we are discussing here might come into this category - someone who describes his profession as "armed robber" to a form-filling official is probably not 100% determined to go straight.

    The problem is what the courts do with them and whether there is a viable alternative to reinforcing their offending by giving them the outcome they want. A couple of years ago I heard someone from the Sentencing Council saying that for many people a big slab of unpaid work is more unwelcome than a shortish custodial - but what do you do, as happened to me recently, when you sit in court and are faced with a drive disqual who has just utterly refused to engage with any non-custodial option? We jailed him with a collective sense of futility because he had left us nothing else. It's a hard one. A prison sentence is almost always a signal of failure for the judicial system.

  2. I did say that to a youth once. My colleague and I were arresting him for yet another bike theft done in full view of CCTV (again). He'd been given a course in motor vehicle maintenance to try and divert him from his life of crime. I suggested to him that maybe, since he was so rubbish at stealing bikes, he would be better off training for a more legitimate career. One week later he was back in custody. For stealing another bike ...

  3. Martin Bonner8 May 2014 at 09:37

    Why mustn't you say that? (Serious question btw.)

    It sounds like it would be excellent advice, and put like that, it might sink in.

    1. Too easy for the mail to twist it into magistrates encouraging skilled criminal s

  4. Sadly I expect it would be a waste of your breath.

  5. Having lived in a YMCA for five years, I saw these characters every day. They would leave in the morning and either come back with a batch of ill-gotten gains or accompanied by a police officer with another court date. I asked them why they chose a life of crime. The main answers were:

    'Got nothing else.'
    'Who's gonne employ me with my record?'
    'It's the only way I'm ever gonna get anyfing.'
    'It's a game. Some yer win, some yer lose.'
    'So what if I'm no good at fieving.. It's all I know.'
    'Got free kids by free different tarts. Fink 'ow much I would avta pay in maintenance if I worked.'
    'My life's effed up so not gonna make any difference.'

  6. About fifteen years ago a certain judge whom I had better not name gave a defendant seven years, and as he was taken down he yelled “You’re a stupid f*cking c*nt”. The judge heard and said “Bring him back” and everyone thought he was going to get extra for contempt and wondered why, was there any point, couldn’t the judge just pretend he had not noticed?

    “Sit down and listen carefully.

    You and I are both about to leave this building. I will go in my comfortable car to my comfortable home where I will spend the evening with my family, have what I like to eat and watch what I want on the TV or read a book of my choice.

    You, meanwhile, will be taken in a filthy and smelly van to an even filthier and smellier prison, where you will be banged up for three and a half years with another incompetent criminal who got caught.

    On the way, you may like to ask yourself: which of us is a stupid f*cking c*nt?

    Now take him down.”

  7. I agree. Priority #1 is supposed to be dissuading recidivism. That little speech is clearly dissuasive, sincerely meant, not at all flippant, unlikely to be misunderstood, and spoken in the language most likely to have an effect on it's intended audience. Should dignity of judicial language, however admirable, trump all that?

    As for the DM, only wilful misrepresentation could conceive of this as condoning crime, and if you concede to wilful misrepresentation, society really does go to hell.

  8. You mustn't say it. Why mustn't you say it?

  9. I've seen a couple of judge say more or less what you wanted to say - one was a DJ, other a Circuit Judge if I remember rightly.


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.