Tag Archives: soft punishment

Law and sanction

Dateline March 2019: according to press reports, One dangerous offender was convicted 21 times for possession of a knife without being sent to prison. Another committed 33 assaults before being jailed for his 34th. One thug had acquired 17 convictions for assaulting police officers before finally being jailed last year for an 18th.
A shoplifter who had an astonishing 70 previous cautions and convictions for theft before being jailed in 2016. Last year, another career criminal totted up 65 previous convictions for theft before being locked up. Another offender committed 30 drug crimes before his 31st saw him put away, while a fraudster was convicted of 53 separate scams before finally being imprisoned for yet another.

Meanwhile, the medieval ‘pleading of the belly’ excuse is popular amongst female crooks. A 39 year old woman downed a bottle of wine and hit three cars. The judge (a woman, by the way) said that if she were a man she would have gone straight to jail, but she gave a sister 3 months to get clean.

White collar crime is alive and profitable. Natalie Johnson, a serial fraudster stole £168,000 from employers. She awaits sentencing as of the current data, but don’t expect a flogging anytime soon.
However, one of her colleagues at one company also put her hands in the tin to the tune of £16,000, but of course theft of this trivial amount didn’t justify jail time. The picture at the top shows her rejoicing at the beak’s generosity in a wine bar after sentencing.

The populace is concerned by the level of crime, and appalled by the perceived “softness” of the justice system. It matters not what the reasons for this are – ‘jail does’t work ‘ / ‘community sentences are better’ / ‘lack of jail places meaning non-custodial sentences are levied’ / ‘long term giving an offender jail time costs society more’.

As Grumpy has quoted before, as a principle which has held for centuries, ‘law without sanction is mere cipher’ . It’s a fact of human behaviour that, in general, people do what gets rewarded. After 20 times of getting away with it, a thug may well become cavalier about carrying a knife.

Unless and until this changes our society will neither be safe nor stable – and creating this environment is the first and primary duty of any government.