Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Crime & punishment

If a child commits a crime that is likely to have them sent to prison, but they are under a certain age then their names are not allowed to be published. This is useless as a deterent. The crime and the punishment becomes abstract, but if the names were known then the local community would know who they were and would be able to put a face to the crime and more important the punishment.
I have written before at some length how I feel some kinds of crime should be punished, but there are other serious crimes that need to be taken into consideration. Surely every prisoner who goes into prison should have some form of psychlogoical examination. Some of the most serious offenders suffer from toxic memeory and if they have been sentenced to a long time in prison then there is the opportunity to give them expert help. The prison population needs to be reduced, not by just releasing people because of the lack of room but those people who shouldn't be there. The non-payment of fines, those that have a mental disorder who need medical help. Some alcohol related crimes should be sent to a specialist prison hospitals. This is not to give them a soft time as it will involve the coming off any addictions they may have, drugs drink and probably others that I dont know or wish to know which would undoubtedly be unpleasent.
The prison service needs a huge overhaul. The prison officers should be paid a lot more money. They should be given the opportunity to study for hihger criminal, socialwork and psychological quilifications. Actually create a proffesion of being a prison officer rather than a job.Their working conditions improved, but also the sentences for officers who transgress the law by muggling drugs, mobile phones etc. in to prison should be double that of a person on the outside. Any solicitor found smuggling should also be harshly sentenced as well as being disbarred. But more importantly the prison officers should be given the support of a team of psychologists who can regularly exam inmates and give the officers an updted report and an accuarte prognosis. This may go to help stop incidents before they happen but also as a warning for possible suicides. I don't mean one overwork psychiatrist who turns up every thursday for two hours but a proper team, of four or five well qualified professionals.Like the prison officers the inmates should be given the opportunity to study for qualifications that will help them on the outside, not the education they get now in how to be a better criminal.
We have to make up our mind as to what system we want, rehabilitation or revenge. Its one or the other. Prisoners need to be isolated from society, however they also need to be helped, but that doesn't mean tv or porn magazines and certainly not class A drugs. The idea of having small cells which leads to overcrowded prisons is useless. We need a decent system that treats prisoners as human beings but not as members of society. They have forgone that by committing a crime. They have to be punished but it also means that they need to be helped. A reoffender starts to get less priviledges. Crimes of violence get no privilidges at all. The idea of hard labour when people pointlessly do hard tasks, they used to break rocks into smaller and smaller bits for years on end, might stop them for reoffending. No one would want to go back.
Is this too harsh, yes I suppose it is, but an act of violence is not fun, it leaves the victim traumatised and sometimes they are unable to carry on a normal life, become a prisoner of their own fears. It goes back to the names being shown and the crime being made human. Violence isn't abstract and in the 21st Century its outdated and unnaccetable.

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