Category Archives: judicial leniency

Britain’s preposterously lenient criminal-justice system

What’s behind the UK crime wave

Dalrymple points out that in England,

only 35% of those convicted of violent crimes go to prison; 36% receive community sentences; 20% get off with a warning.

Spain, he notes,

has a rate of imprisonment for violent crime nearly five times greater than Britain’s, and a much lower rate of violent crime—approximately one-fifth.

When liberal pœnology melts away like snow in spring

Dalrymple writes of the Lavinia Woodward case:

With the notable exception of the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins, no one appeared to think that leniency was justified in Lavinia Woodward’s case. And it was the leniency, not the erroneously assumed harshness towards others, that caused people’s outrage. In all the envy and hatred expressed, liberal penology melted away like snow in spring. Woodward’s parents owned a beautiful villa in Tuscany, where she spent much of her time; she owned Chanel bags at $1,300 a throw; even while on bail, she went shopping for designer clothes.

A student from Magdalen College tweeted: ‘I’m not exactly a prison advocate but . . . a sentence should be a sentence, regardless of how smart/well-off/well-educated you are.’ It is difficult not to see in this, despite its genuflection in the direction of liberal penology (obligatory, no doubt, for the purposes of keeping caste), a desire that Woodward should have been sent to prison. Apparently, many students feared her, and perhaps would have felt better protected from her had she been imprisoned.

Why should others, lower on the social scale, not feel likewise protected when those who are violent towards them are punished by imprisonment? Yet it is the relatively poor perpetrator, not the rich one, who is the main beneficiary, or at least recipient, of the British criminal-justice system’s leniency: precisely the opposite of what most commentary on the case of Woodward would have us believe.

Lawyers’ employment scheme

Prison, English-style

Prison, English-style

The revolving door of the criminal justice system

Dalrymple says (from 0:45) that he disagrees with the idea that prison should be, as he puts it,

a kind of hospital for criminals. That means you are saying criminals are ill.

The purpose of prison should be

the reduction of crime in the population, and the protection of the rest of the population.

A little cannabis resin helps this British prisoner relax

A little cannabis resin helps this British prisoner relax

The humanitarian theory of punishment is

very cruel. It is compatible both with ridiculous leniency and with revolting cruelty. If your theory is that punishment should be effective, it places no limits on what you can do to people.

Dalrymple points to the error

in thinking that prisons are there to reform people. It’s very good if they do — I have no objection — but that is not their purpose.

Most criminals, Dalrymple explains,

  • stop being criminal at the age of 35 to 39. In a sense they reform themselves
  • have done between five and 20 times as much as they have ever been accused of doing
A pair of English convicts in high spirits during one of the occasional recreational riots

A pair of English convicts in high spirits during one of the occasional recreational riots

If you put these two things together, Dalrymple says,

it would be an argument for longer prison sentences rather than shorter ones. In the end this would reduce the number of prisoners rather than increase them, because often it’s a revolving door: they come out, they commit another crime. It’s a very good scheme of employment for lawyers.

Prisoners take control of a wing of a British prison

Prisoners take control of a wing of a British jail

HMP Birmingham

HMP Birmingham, site of a recent especially exuberant riot

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-19-17-46

A convict lets off steam by smashing up the prison

The Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange

The Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange: if your theory is that punishment should be effective, it places no limits on what you can do to people

Judicial leniency and the terror threat in France

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 07.02.38Un petit délinquant devenu djihadiste

The perpetrator of the Nice outrage, Dalrymple relates,

was born and raised in Tunisia and, a totally unskilled man, was given leave to enter and stay in France because he had married a French citizen of Tunisian origin in Tunisia. The decision to allow him into France was based on an abstract doctrine of human rights—in this instance, the right to family reunification—rather than on France’s national interest, which is never allowed to enter into such decisions.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

was very violent to his wife and she divorced him, but it was impossible to deport this père de famille, for to do so would have been contrary to his children’s right to a father. His children therefore acted as his permis de séjour, which was renewed when the original ran out.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 07.03.25

Paterfamilias: Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

Trivial little offences

The public prosecutor of Paris

described him as a petit délinquant, though his offences included damage to property, robbery, making threats and repeated acts of violence.

He hit a man

with a baseball bat (which he happened to have with him, though baseball is not played in France) because the man asked him to move his van, which was blocking traffic.

He was sentenced to six months in prison. The sentence was suspended. Dalrymple asks:

Is a state that cannot bring itself to punish a man who attacks another with a baseball bat one with the will to thwart terrorism?