Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Jack Straw Who Should Be On Early Release

Sometimes you just know when a government minister has lost all touch with reality. Driving home tonight I listened to Richard Bacon's phone in on 5 Live where they were discussing THIS story about someone who was released from prison early under the government's early release scheme. Five days after his relief he murdered his girlfriend - the same woman he had beaten up causing him to go to prison (for the fifth time) for a year.

Jack Straw stood up in the House of Commons and said his release from jail 18 days before his sentence was due to end "was not a contributory factor" in the subsequent killing of his girlfriend. Excuse me?! If he had not been released early she would have undoubtedly lived at least another eighteen days - that's a cast iron certainty.

What I just don't get, is why the government is allowing anyone with a violent record to be released early in the first place. If prison places need to be freed up - and they do, because of monumental government incompetence - then prisoners who are non violent and not a threat to society should be the only ones eligible for early release. Only an idiot of a minister would sanction the early release of men who were in prison for committing violent crimes. To me that's just common sense. To Labour ministers it probably offends their sense of political correctness.

56 comments:

Big Andy said...

A radical thought maybe, but i've always thought it would be sensible to let those designated victims of crimes (where this can be defined) to be allowed to pass sentance within the law for that crime.

Just as the Clerk advises magistrates as the permissable sentances (and the usual application of these), i cant see whats wrong with a judge/clerk allowing the victim to pass sentance if its within the range presribed by law.

I understand this could probably never be entirely practical, but does anyone agree with the broad principle?

Verity said...

"Political correctness" is a manipulative construct. Stripped of fluffiness, it means cold, hard, thought fascism.

And, Iain, your candidate, old, creaky Trot, dried up, ugly, inept, clownish Jack Straw who touched the US Secretary of State on the elbow, as though he were in charge of guiding her (Jack, had she missed a stair, she has US Secret Service to cover her misstep, NOT YOU, you creepy, wormy, self-advancing, impertinent, over-reaching, slithering little thing.)

I wish I could come to a conclusion: do I have more contempt for the laughable Jack Straw (I saw an interview where he said his family were the only "middle class" family on his council - taxpayer funded - estate - turns out both his parents were "teachers"), the panto Tony 'n' Cherie Blairs - God, aren't they ridiculous? - or Gordon Brown and the woman he got married to in that bizarre ceremony in the dining room, with the chairs pushed back, in the manse. And he couldn't bring himself to kiss her, IIRC.

I do feel that certain things need highlighting, don't you?

Jack Straw should never be on early release back into the community. Partly because, there is no longer a community, which has been destroyed by the Trots, so that knocks that on the head.

Anonymous said...

Iain you or Guido must put a link up about the London Mayor giving out hundreds of thousands of pounds to non existent companies and friends of friends this really really stinks. Sleaze and corruption you must not let up on them they are crooked and this surely must help Boris

Anonymous said...

For what reason was he banged up - as a punishment or because he was a danger to the public? If the latter, it seems that the sentence itself was inadequate since whenever he were allowed free he would still be a menace. Of course the early release just compounded the error.

canvas said...

In the past this early release happened under the Conservative Party too.

David Cameron needs to make it clear to the public that this would not happen under his future government...

Anonymous said...

The serious incompetence of our so call ` ministers` is exemplified by the likes of old placemen Straw and Hoon and of course their new "turks ( i seriously think i should change the last letter but it is early morning)" Balls and Milibands (one and two).

That Straw of Hoon would survive in commercial practice is extremely questionable

JH

Fred said...

Here Here Iain!
This canoeist saga is really a political laugh. It is going to make the Police look like Asses, having displayed gross incompetence during the intial investigation and gross overkill involving hundreds of officers in this second investigation.
Yes, both man and wife have indulged in Theft and disception and should be punished, probably with full repayment of the monetary disception, and not jail.
Both volunteered to face the consequences of their crime and both voluntarily returned to face such.
I bet however they will get banged up in jail, taking two precious spaces, when neither of them are a danger to the public. Perhaps as they pulled of an insurance Heist of such monumental News Headlines they might be commended. However the police should be pulled over the ropes for not checking the house with sniffer dogs at the time of the "missing Canoeist" headline. The Canoeist certainly has had the first laugh by moving through the secret door.

Richard Havers said...

Increasingly the govt. shows how how out touch they are. So long in power is what does it. Even those like 'Go' Balls who have not been in govt. that long have an advanced case of it

Gareth said...

Jack Straw, and the Judge sentencing Mourian for the killing, have stated his early release was not a contributory factor in Amanda Murphy's death.

They have both taken a view that he would have killed her when he was released, whenever he was released.

Mourian was sentenced to 20 weeks in June, but released 18 days early in August. Either my maths is wrong or he was released substantially earlier then 18 days. 18 days early of a scheduled early release then.

From the article:
Under the government's scheme, offenders released early after a sentence of less than 12 months are not risk assessed by the probation service and the address to which they will return is not checked.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo), said he had warned the government of the risks.

"We pointed out to ministers that men with a history of violence against their partners were being let out without proper checks," Mr Fletcher said."


Not got enough prison places? Early releases for everyone!

Not got enough Probation officers? Reduce the number of perps they need to watch!

What great ideas...

Johnny Norfolk said...

And Iain the Judge said that he would have killed her no matter when he was released. So why was he not kept 'at H M Pleasure'.

Straw just basicly shrugged his shoulders and said tough. Its an absolute disgrace how Labour get away with it. The media does not make hardly any comment.

Barnacle Bill said...

This is the same Jack Straw that refused to believe there was an increased risk of terrorism in this country because of our involvement in the invasion of Iraq.
It's not tinnitus he suffers from - just a lack of intelligence.

Colin said...

No, sorry, but we don't need to 'free up' prison places by releasing convicts early. We need to build more prison places so that judges and the public can have confidence that the sentences passed will be served. Who is Jack Straw to usurp the judiciary anyway? His bonehaeded comments about this latest incident reflect fully that he is not fit for office.

paranoidman said...

nothing to do with political correctness - everything to do with bureaucracy. much easier to knock a certain percentage of everyone's sentence and calculate the space you're freeing up than take a more selective approach

AnyoneButBrown said...

The government has lost control. It is managing the criminal justice system via a spreadsheet of prisoners vs. prison capacity. Capacity about to be hit, "release some more..numbers 1 to 125 on the spreadsheet". The fact that they are evil bas*ards who then go on to commit murder is not on the spreadsheet.
The role of government is to do two basic things 1) Defend us from external threats 2) Protect us from criminals and ensure justice for those who are found guilty of committing crimes. As far as I'm concerned this crappy government has failed on both counts and should fall.

Man in a Shed said...

David Cameron should start PMQs with praising the memory of this poor woman - along with the military personnel who get a mention.

I think Jack Straw lives in a world of his own now - where his spin is true. He'll be with Gordon in the Bunker until the end. ( Please let it be soon. )

tapestry said...

Gaddafi went off war once his own daughter was wounded in the US air raid in which he narrowly escaped himself.

Perhaps Jack Straw would get it about violence if his own child was murdered.

Elby the Beserk said...

Bloody Jack Straw - and to add insult to injury he's spouting on the dictatorship's record on liberty on CiF, and getting short shrift.

http://tinyurl.com/2h8qvp

Do join in one and all, and give the bastard the kicking he deserves. As sick an article as I have read from a Brown apparatchik in a long time.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Iain, do the public realise that virtually ALL prisoners now obtain early release?

The second half of a prison sentence is served "on licence". In other words, they let them ALL out at half time, except those serving a life sentence.*

The combination of this rule and the early release scheme means that a prisoner sentenced to one year's imprisonment usually spends only three months inside.

From the government's point of view this is just perfect. It enables them to appear tough on crime, whilst saving money on prison places. It also enables them to blame the judges and/or the probation service when things go wrong.
__________________________

*or a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (which amounts to the same thing).

Terrible Tory Girl said...

I have a sneaky suspicion that the country would be better run by monkeys (Paul Merton) or even these non-violent criminals and fraudsters.

They can't be any more corrupt than their New Labour politician counterparts.

That would free up some space at least in the cells but what to do with 'well-eat-my-hat' Straw, McDoh and his cronies?

Any ideas?

Action said...

Iain
You are right about not releasing violent criminals early.
And I was shocked when I heard Straw's insensitive response.
But you spoil your argument by mentioning political correctness.
What has that got to do with anything?

Paddy Briggs said...

Iain

Your post is another regrettable example of a commentator extrapolating from one particular and drawing a over-hasty and rather ill-informed general conclusion. A trite little rant about political correctness (again – Yawn!) and the drawing of a ludicrously partial and biased conclusion about a Minister’s sense of reality. Presumably each case of early release is looked at on its merits. A mistake was made in this instance. The mistake is regrettable and the consequences were ghastly. But that does not undermine the scheme as a whole – and a more in-depth and thorough analysis is called for rather than your gut reaction.

Anonymous said...

Verity said...
I saw an interview where he said his family were the only "middle class" family on his council - taxpayer funded - estate - turns out both his parents were "teachers"


- Verity, what are you saying? Teachers cannot be middle class?

Chris Paul said...

Big Andy suggests that designated victims of crimes should be allowed to pass sentence?

In this case the girlfriend might have suggested ten weeks instead of the twenty he got.

Jack Straw relayed the judges comments and as he said that judge had heard all the evidence unlike himself and his Tory colleague.

Obviously that judge was commenting on the tragic facts in this case with the benefit of hindsight. She didn't say it was predictable.

As others have said the Tories have done this early release thing over and over again through history. And despite what Trumpeter says the serving of half to two thirds of the sentence - subject to good behaviour - is also something that both parties have operated.

There are plenty of people in prison that should be in hospital or on community sentences. But there are not enough mental health beds, especially not secure ones, or staff. And there are not enough probation officers either. Probably about half what is needed in both cases.

But of course Iain rolls all these services into the tag of "bureaucracy" and proposes further cuts.

We have this constant mantra of a smaller state and constant demands for more staff and services when in opposition.

Oscar Miller said...

What I couldn't believe was that the sentencing judge said she believed that this man would have murdered his girlfriend whenever he was released from jail. So why the f**k didn't she make sure he stayed in prison? Isn't prevention of murder and the safety of the public an over-riding reason to bang people up? How utterly disgraceful that such an appalling pronouncement could be passed off by Jack Straw as somehow reasonable.

Benedict White said...

Iain, I understand he was released 6 days early from a 1 year sentence, and killed her on the 5 day, IE 1 day before he would have otherwise been released. (However that may be just government spin)

The bigger question is what could have been done to rahabilitae him whilst inside and protect her when he inevitably got released?

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the more subtle and important point here. Jack Straw said [or quoted the judge] that the crime would have taken place when ever he was released. So he was released !! Does this mean that we as a society are happy to accept that some people will kill 'whenever they are released' but let them go any way because we are no longer willing to lock them up for life ?

I don't want to go all 'Daily Mail' on this, but this is a scandal...

Anonymous said...

What I just don't get, is why the government is allowing anyone with a violent record to be released early in the first place ?

To free up prison places for OAP council tax protesters.

Anonymous said...

I recently saw a man being imprisoned for 190 days in my local magistrates' court. At the time he had been in custody for 40 days and the debate turned to when he would be released. It materialized, that sentences for sexual, violent and drug related offences are halved and all other sentences are quartered. Therefore our hero only had 7 days left to serve. But then somebody remembered the 18 day rule to ease overcrowding; hence it appeared he was about to be immediately released. I personally found this truly astonishing and believe the public at large need to be more aware of what is going on.

Jilted John said...

Um, not getting this. If he was a danger then he should not have been released, surely? Reading your post literally, Iain, seems to suggest that it would have been somehow better if he had killed her after serving his full sentence. Which I'm certain is not what you mean.

Colin said...

No, sorry, but we don't need to 'free up' prison places by releasing convicts early. We need to build more prison places


Given that we already lock up more of our citizens than any other European country, no, colin, we don't, we need to stop locking people away who do not pose a material danger to others. Funny how high incarceration rates lead to higher crime rates, isn't it? One might almost think that prison doesn't 'work'...

Heresy!

Jeremy Jacobs said...

"What I just don't get, is why the government is allowing anyone with a violent record to be released early in the first place. If prison places need to be freed up - and they do, because of monumental government incompetence - then prisoners who are non violent and not a threat to society should be the only ones eligible for early release".

Answer: Incompetence

Vienna Woods said...

..and that silly bitch Jaqui Smith arguing about backdating the Police pay-rise to 1st, September when it was due to be paid then anyway. Of course the Scottish police service have rightly backdated the salaries to 1st September, so this an argument that is only going to make very serious problems for NuLab having made a no-strike agreement in return for "loyalty". Loyalty cuts both ways and unless she is told to back-off then there are dark times ahead.

Vienna Woods said...

..and that silly bitch Jaqui Smith arguing about backdating the Police pay-rise to 1st, September when it was due to be paid then anyway. Of course the Scottish police service have rightly backdated the salaries to 1st September, so this an argument that is only going to make very serious problems for NuLab having made a no-strike agreement in return for "loyalty". Loyalty cuts both ways and unless she is told to back-off then there are dark times ahead.

Chuck Unsworth said...

Au contraire, it's Jack Straw who should be banged up - for criminal neglect.

Letters From A Tory said...

The whole notion of 'serving your sentence' is dead in the water.

Why would someone fear going to jail if they have a good chance of getting out early? The deterrent effect of a prison term is evaporating.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Only Labour could sit down and plan to increase prison sentences without thinking about the places needed to house them. Everything they have done in 10 years is a mess. They are just full of stupid ideas and have even less understanding of how to carry them out. They refuse to listen to those that could advise them on how to do things.

What a mess, when will it be over.

Cinnamon said...

One could get the distinct impression that Labour is trying to stir up vigilantism. How long before victims decide that they aren't going to get justice and protection unless they 'organise' it themselves?

Anonymous said...

Straw is doing the usual evading of responsibility typical of him and his cronies.
Of course early release was responsible - how on earth could the killer have murdered her if he had still been in prison - telepathy?

Heron said...

Ah, Jilted John is caught peddling the old lie that:


...we need to stop locking people away who do not pose a material danger to others. Funny how high incarceration rates lead to higher crime rates, isn't it? One might almost think that prison doesn't 'work'...


As Stephen Pollard said:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/stephenpollard/388006/we-jail-too-few-not-too-many.thtml


...one very misleadling stat is already being bandied around - that Britain already jails more people than other comparable EU countries.

Britain certainly imprisons a higher percentage of its population. But this is a meaningless measure, since it takes no account of the proportion of the population who commit crimes. Allow for the extraordinary proportion of the UK population which commits crimes, and Britain has a low imprisonment rate. Whereas Britain imprisons 12 people per 1,000 crimes, Spain imprisons 48 and Ireland 33.

The statistic which has been proved in every instance across the globe, but which is ignored by those who have shaped policy in recent decades, is that high imprisonment rates correlate directly with low crime rates: Spain and Ireland, for example, both have far lower crime rates than Britain. And when Britain began increasing its prison population 15 years ago, the number of crimes began falling. In 1993 the prison population was 49,000 and the number of recorded offences was 19 million. By 2005 the prison population was 75,000 and the number of crimes 11 million. The same story can be told for the US - and indeed everywhere where imprisonment rates are high - where the crime rate has fallen steadily as the prison population has climbed. Less than one per cent of all crimes in Britain result in a custodial sentence.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

chris paul [10.10 AM] Please read my post again. I never suggested that the Labour party had a monopoly of early release schemes.

Predictably, (because one hears this so often from the left) you say "There are plenty of people in prison that should be ... on community sentences."

I disagree. Anyone with practical experience of our courts knows that judges and magistrates lean over backwards to avoid sending people (especially young people) to prison.

Those in prison for 'minor' offences are almost invariably repeat offenders, who have been quite undeterred by previous community sentences.

Anonymous said...

I think there's another issue at play here Iain. Ultimately, the early release thing is in THIS case (not most cases of course) a bit of a red herring. It gets to the crux of why so many battered wives do not report their attackers as they know that doing so will only escalate things and that they cannot rely on the legal system and police to protect them, or their children.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

jilted john [10.48] You say: "we already lock up more of our citizens than any other European country ..."

That's because, sadly, we have more criminals. Crime for crime we lock up many fewer than most EU countries.

Then you say, "we need to stop locking people away who do not pose a material danger to others."

Why so? What about (for example) the persistent car thief who has stolen 20 or 30 cars in the course of his career? (I have seen many such cases.) Would you leave him at large to continue his criminal exploits, secure in the knowledge that no-one is ever going to send him to prison?

Then you say, "Funny how high incarceration rates lead to higher crime rates."

I know of no reputable criminologist who would support this bizarre proposition. All the evidence is the other way.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Straw and the whole crew should be sent to Elba and left there.

Jilted John said...

I know of no reputable criminologist who would support this bizarre proposition.

Really? Off the top of my head I can think of a few. I suspect Paul Mason at Cardiff would. I think Roger Graef, who is as close as you come to being a famous criminologist in the UK, would. Who else? Well, O'Mahony at TCD might well agree as well (though I'm not 100% certain) if you want a more international perspective. Let me go to my bookshelf and find some others.

Which criminologists were you thinking of?

Vienna Woods said...

I hear that Brownie didn't engage brain at PMQ today when he supported Jaqui the Jerk in refusing to backdate the Police pay rise to September 1st. He can only pray that Plod is not so very angry that the (ahem!) investigation into Donorgate will be now very thoroughly investigated indeed. Would be a good time to provide Plod with any new evidence, however weak!

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

jilted john [2.14 PM] Dr Paul Mason is a lecturer at the Cardiff school of journalism, media and cultural studies. The focus of his work is how the media report crime.

Roger Graef is a film maker, most famous for the Secret Policeman's Ball.

Don't trouble to rummage in your bookshelves. Just tell me how you would deal with the type of persistent car thief I mentioned in my post - and others like him.

Sean said...

"Funny how high incarceration rates lead to higher crime rates, isn't it? "

I think you've confused cause and effect, there.

On the subject of Jack Straw, read his piece in the Guardian today, as an example of someone who's really lost touch with reality.

Alex said...

This has nothing to do with political correctness, nor being out of touch with reality, but everything to do with governemnt on the cheap.

Paddy Briggs said...

I'm sorry but insults like "silly bitch" snd "Jacqui the jerk" add nothing but bile to Iain's blog. Perhaps he is tolerant enough to allow such children's playground language - but those who use it should be ashamed of themselves. I hope they are.

Margaret on the Guillotine said...

Oh, engage brain before (as my mother - may have - said) putting up a blog post, Dale. This dreary parody of a Dorking suburb two-up two-down "chap" eating his roast beef and horseradish, washing the car on a Sunday afternoon, smoking his pipe and demanding the Government do what the Express or Mail tell them would be funny were it not so true of so many Tories, most of whom leave comments here.

This is a tragic case, but there is no justification for the clamour from the twee Home Counties middle class to lock all criminals up indefinitely as a result. It only gives ammo for the likes of Jackie Smith to call the Tories "weak on crime".

BTW Colin, who is Jack Straw to usurp the judiciary- he's Lord Chancellor, he's head of the judiciary.

Anonymous said...

Sehr geEhrter Iain

A Lady has been murdered - deprived brutally of Life - by a Thug who had repeatedly beaten up a Woman

- without the System giving him enough adequate incentive (hereinafter called "effective deterrent") against such obnoxiousness

I would like to have the Press publish the names and photographs of those who imposed such inadequate punishments or let this wretch out early

The Living God is SHOCKED & OUTRAGED

and even now, the System :

1. cannot be truthful about this Brute's sentence - "Life" of course means anything but "Life"

2. cares so little about his actions that he could serve as little as 13 years ... and then be released by a Parole Board whose members will bear no responsibility if on release (still as a Young Man) he goes on to Murder more relatively defenseless women

We are not a Civilized Society - we pretend that we are Humane because we have "abolished" the Death Penalty

However, this is another Lie

Murderers may be confident that, whoever loses their Lives because of their Wickedness, it will not be them (err ... "they" in Cambridge)

but Capital Punishment is being carried out daily on the Victims, who could include our daughters

Atlas shrugged said...

I am not too sure what the precise statistics are. But something like 80% of this nations burglarys, for example, are carried out by less then 2000 habitual criminals.

The whole lot would not fill up one reasonably sized prison.

When someone is in prison they cant harm the public. Thats the only sensible reason why we still have and need prisons at all.

The problem for Lawyers, probation services, judges, policemen, insurance companies, private and government security services, social workers, hospital A&E departments, large overtaxing authoritarian socialist governments. Also many other highly interested parties and industries, far to numerous to mention, is that.

If we locked up serious habitual criminals for 30 years at least. Or better still for life on a prison Island, somewhere off the coast of Scotland. (which would keep down transport and other costs in general.)

All these interested bodies would either not be needed at all, or lose money, power and status.

CRIME PAYS and not just for the criminals.

Which REALLY IS the reason why we have so much crime. Its as simple as that.

It has nothing to do with political correctness.

It has everything to do with deliberately fucking up this once free nation. So that even far worse things then are happening now can and will happen later.

If your MP is a beneficiary of the judicial system and will not admit that what I say is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

May I suggest you do not vote for the lying creep ever again. Whatever political party the 'should be inside themselves asshole,'claims to represent.

Anonymous said...

The point is that serious violent offenders such as the man in this case should not be released from prison at all. Is it really okay to say that "if he hadn't been released early his girlfriend would have lived another 18 days", what a consolation that would be. The best way to solve the prison crisis is (a) to build more prisons; and (b) until those prison places are available, reserve prison for thos violent offenders who are a real threat to us all.

Colin said...

Jilted John and others, it is quite obvious to anyone with IQ greater than their shoe size - even in inflated 'EU ' values!! - that the Government, however inept, incompetetnt, mendacious as this one, does not control the crime rate. Crime is committed by tossers who think they can get one over on the rest of us. They don't spend a lot of time considering the parlous position of the hapless and hopeless Home Secretary before making ofs with your iPod or sat-nav, doing unspeakable things to your under-age daugher or murdering someone who barged in front of them in the bus queue. Parliament, in ts infinite wisdom, has decreed that many of these criminals should, on conviction, serve a prision term. Get over it. At present rates, the number of criminals sentenced to prision seems to be outstrripping theavailability of prison places. Ergo, and its not really very difficult, even for a time-serving politician feeding from the public trough, we need more prison places. Now, who really has a problem with that?

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Margaret on the guillotine [7.35 PM] So you don't care for the two-up-two-down chap from a Dorking suburb eating his roast beef and horseradish, washing the car on a Sunday afternoon, smoking his pipe and reading the Daily Mail?

A pity, since such men are the backbone of England and have made this country great.

Jilted John said...

Sorry, could I just remind trumpeter and others of the first part of my original post:

If he was a danger then he should not have been released, surely?

I support longer detention of those who represent a material danger to others and society and I would have to - reluctantly, because I personally rate a car thief (be they never so habitual) much lower in the hierarchy of iniquity than, say, a one-off murderer or rapist - include trumpeter's habitual car thief in that.

I don't support custodial sentencing for a lot of things though. The majority of drugs possession offences, for example.* Some 'assaults', especially where there was no ABH occasioned.

I also have seen and read a huge body of evidence that suggests very strongly indeed that imprisoning people should be used as a last resort, because locking petty criminals up with serious criminals (and giving them a criminal record that renders them much less employable) is a great way to turn them into much more serious criminals.

The crime debate is one of the worst for bringing out macho posturing and the conservatives, of whom I count myself one, are greater offenders than most in this (second only, in my opinion, to the hash we usually manage to make of the immigration debate). We should be winning it.

JJ

* (you know what? This debate could take a long time, we probably both have lots of arguments, and ultimately, we're not going to agree, so let's leave it for another time)

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

jilted john [9.53 AM] It is an interesting debate, and here's another thought.

A hundred years ago most petty offenders received a short prison sentence. Sentences of 7, 14 and 21 days (almost unknown now) were the norm. If you committed a crime, and were caught, you could expect to go to prison.

And, despite widespread poverty, there was very little crime. It was not unknown for Assize judges, on circuit, to be given white gloves, meaning they had NO cases to try. Can you imagine that happening today?