Category Archives: penological liberalism

The long march of sentimentality

Screenshot 2020-02-11 at 08.28.46

Sudesh Amman

The absurdity of British criminal-justice policy over several decades at the behest of penological liberals

The British criminal-justice system, writes Dalrymple, is one of

elaborate and ceremonious frivolity.

The frivolity

is serious in its effects, not only for its immediate consequences on Britain’s crime rate but also because it undermines the legitimacy of the State, whose first and inescapable duty is to maintain enough order to secure the safety of citizens as they go about their lawful business.

Remission of prison sentences is automatic,

turning all judges into liars. When a judge says, ‘I sentence you to three years’ imprisonment,’ what he means is: ‘I sentence you to 18 months’ imprisonment.’

Appalling as terrorist violence is, the average person in Britain is many times more likely to be the victim of violent common crime than of terrorism, so that Boris Johnson’s announcement that the laws governing the sentencing of terrorists will be made more severe,

by fixing attention on what remains an uncommon problem and ignoring a far more prevalent one, may be doing a disservice.

Dalrymple says that good sense on criminal justice in Britain

will be difficult to put into practice, for a long march of sentimentality has occurred through the minds of the intelligentsia and élites in general. The father of the last man to be murdered by a terrorist recently released from prison said that he hoped his son’s death would not be used as an argument for more drastic sentencing of terrorists.

Screenshot 2020-02-11 at 08.34.03

Does one laugh or cry?

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.

Pœnological frivolity spurs terrorism

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 13.02.33Dalrymple writes of one of the Belgian bombers:

Before he turned murderously religious, he had been a bank robber. He fired a Kalashnikov at the police when they interrupted him in an attempted robbery, for which crime, or combination of crimes, he received a sentence of nine years’ imprisonment. Of those nine years he served only four, being conditionally discharged. The principal condition was that he had to attend a probation office once a month: about as much use, one might have supposed, as an igloo in the tropics.

No doubt

he underwent various assessments before release establishing his low risk of re-offending; he probably also said before his release that he now realised that shooting policemen with Kalashnikovs was wrong, that he was sorry for it, etc.

One of the causes, then, of terrorism in Europe is, says Dalrymple,

pœnological frivolity. A 40-year sentence would have been more appropriate.

Penology

is increasingly opposed to the rule of law: it favours the arbitrary and the speculative over the predictable and the certain.

Frivolity of Western criminal justice

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 08.41.42

A mockery: Palais de Justice, Brussels

How liberal pœnology fosters Islamist terrorism

Dalrymple writes that the 2016 Brussels bombings

exposed the frivolity of the Belgian criminal-justice system, which it shares with the British and French systems, and several others, and which has turned the fight against crime into an elaborate and expensive—though lucrative—charade.

Ibrahim El Bakraoui possessed and used a Kalashnikov, which

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 08.55.51is not generally a sign of good citizenship or of a momentary lapse therefrom such as we may all from time to time suffer.

And

you would not have to be Sherlock Holmes to surmise that a man who had used a Kalashnikov before he went to Syria might be a dangerous man after returning.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 09.03.00Khalid El Bakraoui was

left at liberty.

One is struck, says Dalrymple,

not only by the leniency of the original sentence—the violent robbery of cars is not the result of a submission to momentary temptation—but by the iron determination of the system to keep him out of prison.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 09.06.29Given that

so many Islamist terrorists graduate seamlessly to politico-religious crime from common delinquency, one can say with tolerable certainty that one of the root causes of such terrorism in Europe is liberal pœnology, with its view that punishment is therapy and prisons are hospitals for the temporarily disturbed or naughty.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 09.08.59Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 09.14.05Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 09.12.39

The sentences given to rapists are ludicrously inadequate

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 03.31.33The vast majority of crimes are susceptible to explanation or understanding, and punishment is very often unjustified, morally or practically. Leniency and pity are called for, and we must support every conceivable protection for the accused. It would be outrageous, for instance, if a released murderer were refused access to the airwaves or permission to publish a book on the grounds that he was a murderer.

However, there is one crime that is of special heinousness, deserving only the most condign punishment. It is a crime that must, for moral reasons, be treated with exemplary severity and unparalleled harshness.

That crime is rape.

The sentences given to rapists are ludicrously inadequate, and a different standard of proof is necessary to secure conviction of the accused. The presumption of innocence ought in this case to be abandoned or at least diluted; and because in this crime there can be no smoke without fire, it is distressing that so many cases end in acquittal. After all, rape is a more serious offence than murder, and people accused of rape are almost always guilty even if found innocent.

In the case of rape, it is safest always to adhere to the jurisprudential principle guilty because charged.