I spent most of this morning dealing with people who had breached various community orders. Some were easy - a young man whose attitude problem makes him an impossible 'client' for Probation (or whatever it is called these days).He was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid work and had managed to do two of them. We revoked his order, resentenced him to a suspended prison sentence and explained exactly what that means.
I spoke directly to him and pointed out that the courtroom has two exit doors: one leading to the lobby and the High Street , and the other to the cells. I explained slowly and directly that it was his choice as to which door he leaves by on any future appearance.
Then we saw a painfully thin and hunched woman of forty-something who looked at least ten years older, who had been brought low by her alcohol addiction. We decided to cancel the existing order, and replace it with supervision with mandatory alcohol treatment.She was accompanied by her teenage daughter, whom I praised for her devotion to her mother's illnesses, and asked to remind her mum of her probation appointments. Encouragingly, she and her mother thanked us as they left.
Fingers crossed, as ever.
Musings and Snippets from a recently retired JP. I served for 31 years, mostly in west London. I was Chairman of my Bench for some years, and a member of the National Bench Chairmen's Forum All cases are based on real ones, but anonymised and composited. All opinions are those of one or more individuals. JPs swear to enforce the law of the land, whether or not they approve of it. Nothing on here constitutes legal advice.
Friday, May 15, 2015
Crime Punishment and Rehabilitation
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Why suspended for the first one ? From his point of view, he just got off doing 98 hours work.ReplyDelete
Right, Tony. For many of our customers a sentence of life in the salt-mines of Siberia (if only . . .) suspended on any conditions you can think of is a let-off. As long as they are not going downstairs today!ReplyDelete
Part of the problem is that direct custody is seen as missing a step out.... In the old days, before suspended custody, a bench would probably have sent him down as UPW was seen as last chance..ReplyDelete
Mandatory alcohol treatment? There have been many occasions when I have wanted a defendant to go on such a treatment programme but I have always been told it can only happen with the agreement of the offender.ReplyDelete
Why did you not revoke & resentence to a suspended custody together PLUS the outstanding 98 hours as a requirement?ReplyDelete
I was wondering the same thing.Delete
I don't think suspended sentences can be revoked. They can either be activated or not, or made more onerous. If I am correct I can see why the sentence couldn't have been amended to include the unpaid work.Delete
I believe the reason why the outstanding hours were not ordered to be completed was because he was now given a custodial sentence, albeit suspended. That sentence is more serious & was imposed for failure to complete the unpaid work requirement. A suspended custodial sentence is still a custodial sentence & you can't then additionally order completion of the outstanding hours when a custodial sentence, even if suspended, is in force.Delete
Suspended sentences can be very useful since they hang over the offender. The individual knows that any further offence can result in it's activation either in full or in part. Whether that actually happens is up to the future sentencing bench but there is an expectation that the SS will be activated.
If anyone wants to read a fairly simple guide to the limits on sentencing and how judges of all levels go about it, have a read of this.ReplyDelete
Sorry (Anonymous 19/5 & 20/5) but the original post said 'we revoked his order, resentenced him to a suspended prison sentence.......'. So why, at that point, did the suspended sentence not include a requirement regarding unpaid work? The only reason that I can see is that probation may have said that it was 'unworkable' as he wouldn't comply. If that was the case I would have made custody immediate since he was clearly refusing to comply with a court order and to do otherwise would effectively reward him by removing the required 'punishment' aspect and replacing it with 'just' a suspended sentence!ReplyDelete
"resentenced him to a suspended prison sentence and explained exactly what that means"ReplyDelete
I can guarantee all he heard was "I stuck the Man the finger and just got let off. Score!"
That is really going to reset his 'attitude problem'