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Sentencing - Are they too harsh/lenient?


Sentencing - Are they too harsh/lenient?

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Simmo
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AB2014 - 5 Oct 20 2:47 PM
Simmo - 5 Oct 20 1:54 PM
khafka - 5 Oct 20 4:09 AM
The short answer for me is "it depends". Some cases I can see being too short/lenient and others way too harsh. But then you have to weigh it against each other, is the harsh one too harsh and the lenient one fair, or is the lenient one too soft and the harsh one just right? Maybe both are wrong and it should be somewhere in the middle?

General research concludes that the aftermath of sentencing is oftentimes much harsher and long lasting than the sentence itself.

I'm still very much in favour of a clean slate approach. Once your sentence/order is done then that's it. Done. It doesn't show on any disclosure or anything. The only people privy to your criminal history is the police. Struggling to find a job due to something you did 20 years ago is a very real issue facing thousands of ex-offenders who just want to get back into a normal life, or what could be construed as one.

I completely agree. The long lasting effects of the conviction on housing, work, relationships and everything else is far longer lasting than the actual sentence, and can be far more of a punishment too. I also agree that even on an enhanced disclosure, only a select few spent convictions should be shown. For example, if you were applying to work with vulnerable adults, why does a conviction from many years earlier for any offences other than something relevant to the job that could indicate that you are ever a risk, ever be disclosed. Once the rehabilitation period for the sentence has passed, it should not even be included on an enhanced DBS certificate if it is wholly irrelevant. If they want convicted offenders to rehabilitate and be a contributing part of 'normal' society, they should atleast give us half a chance to do this.

I agree with the point about enhanced DBS checks. At least in Scotland there is a procedure for applying to a court to get some convictions removed, even if there is a long time to wait before you are eligible to apply. That is better than the system in England and Wales, where the options are limited:
  1. Grin and bear it
  2. Don't grin, but bear it anyway
At least now there is the prospect of improvements to the filtering system in England and Wales, but we're waiting for the government and the DBS to get their act together. Until then, we're still stuck with what we've got.

Agreed. And we all know that the if government and DBS do get there act together it wont be done in any great haste or anytime soon. They are keen to spout about rehabilitation to the media and that rehabilitation is their aim but the truth is they are the creators of all the barriers to rehabilitation and do nothing to change it.
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AB2014 - 5 Oct 20 11:52 AM
punter99 - 5 Oct 20 11:38 AM
AB2014 - 5 Oct 20 11:08 AM
punter99 - 5 Oct 20 10:56 AM
Simmo - 5 Oct 20 3:42 AM
How do you feel about sentencing as a whole (not just custodial sentences)?. Are they always fair and just? Every case is judged on its own individual merits but can sentences at times be unduly lenient or way too harsh, and what impact does a sentence have on a persons drive to rehabilitate? Share your own experiences.

It depends on what the objective of sentencing is. Are you sentencing to punish, to deter or to rehabilitate? Do you believe that sentence length should depend on the amount of harm caused to the victim? Should some offenders be punished more severely because the public views them as more 'dangerous' than other offenders?

Last year the govt said that short sentences (under 12 months) were not working, because they were just long enough to disrupt someone's life, but not long enough to allow the authorities to rehabilitate that person. In Scotland, I believe the justice system has a presumption against short sentences, but in England they are still very common.

Another point in the programme is that prison has no deterrent effect, even if one is intended. The number of people in prison shows that it is not a deterrent. Rehabilitation is not really the courts' concern, whether it should be or not, but there is (or was) a sign in many prisons saying that people are sent there as punishment, not for punishment. In England & Wales, the government keeps making noises about the ineffectiveness of short sentences, but no actual presumption against short sentences. Some courts just suspend the short prison term, which has exactly the same rehabilitation period anyway, and prevents filtering. There is the thing about post-licence supervision, but that could be just as easily achieved by a community order, as there is no post-licence supervision for suspended sentences.

Rehabilitation is the courts concern. One of the factors that could determine if someone gets a community order or a custodial sentence is their responsiveness to rehabilitation. In the pre sentence report, probation will highlight to the judge whether the person is displaying an understanding of their offending and a willingness to change.

I have to disagree, partially. It should be their concern, as they are setting the direction of travel. However, there are many tales of people going back to court to get an order ended, including restraining orders. If they mention that the order is preventing their conviction from becoming spent, the judge says "Your rehabilitation is not my concern". That seems fairly clear-cut. 

There's no evidence that the judge says "rehabilitation is not my concern" for absolutely everybody that applies to have an order lifted. But I would imagine it is a very common ploy used by people who want their order lifted, to say it's harming their rehabilitation. The judge has to decide who is telling the truth and who is working the system, because they will encounter both scenarios.

One example I came across recently was where a judge said he was tired of hearing defendants say they accessed illegal images accidentally, because he hears that all the time. It's a 'boy cries wolf' situation. The ones telling the truth get missed, because so many others (or their lawyers) are game playiing.

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punter99 - 6 Oct 20 10:25 AM
AB2014 - 5 Oct 20 11:52 AM
punter99 - 5 Oct 20 11:38 AM
AB2014 - 5 Oct 20 11:08 AM
punter99 - 5 Oct 20 10:56 AM
Simmo - 5 Oct 20 3:42 AM
How do you feel about sentencing as a whole (not just custodial sentences)?. Are they always fair and just? Every case is judged on its own individual merits but can sentences at times be unduly lenient or way too harsh, and what impact does a sentence have on a persons drive to rehabilitate? Share your own experiences.

It depends on what the objective of sentencing is. Are you sentencing to punish, to deter or to rehabilitate? Do you believe that sentence length should depend on the amount of harm caused to the victim? Should some offenders be punished more severely because the public views them as more 'dangerous' than other offenders?

Last year the govt said that short sentences (under 12 months) were not working, because they were just long enough to disrupt someone's life, but not long enough to allow the authorities to rehabilitate that person. In Scotland, I believe the justice system has a presumption against short sentences, but in England they are still very common.

Another point in the programme is that prison has no deterrent effect, even if one is intended. The number of people in prison shows that it is not a deterrent. Rehabilitation is not really the courts' concern, whether it should be or not, but there is (or was) a sign in many prisons saying that people are sent there as punishment, not for punishment. In England & Wales, the government keeps making noises about the ineffectiveness of short sentences, but no actual presumption against short sentences. Some courts just suspend the short prison term, which has exactly the same rehabilitation period anyway, and prevents filtering. There is the thing about post-licence supervision, but that could be just as easily achieved by a community order, as there is no post-licence supervision for suspended sentences.

Rehabilitation is the courts concern. One of the factors that could determine if someone gets a community order or a custodial sentence is their responsiveness to rehabilitation. In the pre sentence report, probation will highlight to the judge whether the person is displaying an understanding of their offending and a willingness to change.

I have to disagree, partially. It should be their concern, as they are setting the direction of travel. However, there are many tales of people going back to court to get an order ended, including restraining orders. If they mention that the order is preventing their conviction from becoming spent, the judge says "Your rehabilitation is not my concern". That seems fairly clear-cut. 

There's no evidence that the judge says "rehabilitation is not my concern" for absolutely everybody that applies to have an order lifted. But I would imagine it is a very common ploy used by people who want their order lifted, to say it's harming their rehabilitation. The judge has to decide who is telling the truth and who is working the system, because they will encounter both scenarios.

One example I came across recently was where a judge said he was tired of hearing defendants say they accessed illegal images accidentally, because he hears that all the time. It's a 'boy cries wolf' situation. The ones telling the truth get missed, because so many others (or their lawyers) are game playiing.

a judge said he was tired of hearing defendants say they accessed illegal images accidentally, because he hears that all the time. It's a 'boy cries wolf' situation. The ones telling the truth get missed, because so many others (or their lawyers) are game playing.

Interestingly, on the advice of my solicitor, I did tell the truth and was upfront in interview, and honestly, I feel I came off worse for it. I was contrite, I explained the help I'd sought and didn't make up any excuses like 'accidental'. And was smashed with a suspended sentence and lengthy shpo for a small number of images. So in answer to the original post, definitely too harsh, especially fully considering long term effects of the sentence/criminal record/shpo etc I'll add this because I feel it's important, the higher the sentence the more chance of press coverage which exacerbates and creates many more problems which the court has no interest at all in but it still has monstrous effect on those of us in the papers.

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2 Years Ago by Mr W
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Simmo - 5 Oct 20 3:42 AM
How do you feel about sentencing as a whole (not just custodial sentences)?. Are they always fair and just? Every case is judged on its own individual merits but can sentences at times be unduly lenient or way too harsh, and what impact does a sentence have on a persons drive to rehabilitate? Share your own experiences.

Hi Simmo,

I have a car number plate you would smile at and links to your nickname and my name.
As many readers of your post will have read my post when I sought advice on an aspect of my case, they will know my actual relevance to your question on harshness.

To begin with I would suggest that any initial answer to the question is like the reaction of a child to being punished; "it's not fair, why me and not them etc"; as that is our "human" and default surprise reaction at the actual Judge's words.
The reason for my saying this is because the majority of us will of recognised that we deserved to be punished for our actions, but have been told or influenced by our legal representatives throughout the process that "escape / leniency" in some manner was possible. After the Judge's words these advisors change their words to "it was harsh and you should appeal!" Call me cynical but I feel this process generates our willingness to be the source of revenue for them. This process by them also supports and drives our emotional desire not to be seen as a really bad individual and our deep search for forgiveness as we promise not to do it again. 

My personal answer to your question links both my comments above and the confusion generated when you see 2 different Judges, sentencing 2 different offenders,  arrested in the same police operation concerning the same female, the offenders are unknown to each other, and with a different amount of chargers against each. The facts are:.
Judge A oversaw  Offender A who had the most chargers including videoing the sexual act, pleaded guilty at first chance in Court, and was given a 3 year supervisory order so is now off the SOR and no SOPO.
Judge B oversaw Offender B who had fewer chargers (no videoing for clarity), pleaded guilty at arresting interview and first chance in Court, and was given a 4 year sentence so is life for SOR and SOPO. Worth noting that Offender B's PO's pre-sentence report initially recommended a 3 year supervisory order (I have a copy of that document) but this was amended shortly before sentencing in various details to support a change of sentencing recommendation to custodial; despite an assessment by an independent and Court recognised Professor of psychology supporting a non-custodial sentence for various evidential reasons!

There was 2 main influences to the difference in my opinion:
  1. Judge A stated that due to how the female presented herself in actions, dress and manner, a person could believe she was of an older age.
  2. Judge B stated that in his opinion on how he saw the female presented in Court, it was obvious she was providing a wrong age and the defendant should of realised that. this was despite SS records showing her previous history of lying about her age and so offering sexual services under the pretext of it being legal age wise. Note I do not use this as part of a defence to you, it's just for clarity.
Also it was demonstrated that the trial / sentencing of Offender A was held separately due to the number of defendants arrested in the Police operation. It was therefore a "test" to see the strength and weaknesses of the operation's evidence. (Information provided by the solicitor and barrister)
This meant that offender B's sentencing was in the company of numerous other convicted offenders - all unknown to him - that presented something different to the public i.e. a gang. 
The sentencing date for offender B etc was also rearranged so it would be on the same day as a Government report on Sexual Gangs in the UK mainly by non-white individuals. (Please no offence is meant or implied)
It did not matter that the Judge B and the CPS stated it was not a "gang" being sentenced. In fact one barrister raised the issue before commencement of sentencing and the Judge dismissed his point that and influence implied by the date of both.

So YES I believe sentencing can be influenced by many factors that are NOT relevant to the offence!
YES I was like the "child" on hearing the severity of my punishment. This in part was due to what can only be described as my naivety at the time in believing by "admitting and explaining" and "not making excuses" about my offence was the best approach and not questioning those hired to protect my interests. For clarity I know believe it was the best approach as the point on "explaining and not excuses" was finally recognised by all authorities though unfortunately to late. 
YES we should all be vocal in our questioning of a system that is basically "skin deep". Or in other words the face (skin) of the Justice system which is seen by the public projects the agenda of the Government. The "meat and bone" underneath is the reality of a system that is trying to react to an agenda it has no control over and is constantly changing. This "meat and bones" is justifiably concerned that they are constantly accused of not doing a good job by those who do not understand or comprehend the realities and responsibilities of it. 
This chaos prevents the true purpose of sentencing -
The psychological redevelopment of an individual so they will be a contributing individual to society (rehabilitation)

We have to remember the term "Punishment" has no place in a modern thinking society. Like many other subjects being raised by organisations, it derives from a time that has gone and was still developing on what a human being should be like.

Take care and sorry if gone on a bit.


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope is for tomorrow else what is left if you remove a mans hope.
ImJack
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As others have mentioned its not necessarily the sentence but what happens afterwards. But it can be worse than that.

When arrested for possession of indecent images of children (IIOC) everything was what you might expect. I was bailed (albeit 50 miles away) to an address away from my family.

However once Social Services had branded me a child abuser (to my face/ first meeting) and investigated, despite finding nothing wrong and my kids happy and successful, they closed their case (2 months). The Metropolitan police then continously abused the extended bail process to extend the investigation to over 12 months. This destroyed my family life, my ability to work, and my children lost their father as social services put the boot in with my wife to the point she gave up supporting me. Whenever I asked the police about getting back with my family, even for a short holiday, they would say stuff like 'social services wouldn't like it' and take no action. There was none of the supposed liaison because social services refused to re-open their case until I was sentenced (I'd pleaded guilty). So completely stuffed. The police also used my personal information and passwords on the darkweb which I told them I didn't have an account on, and honeytrap gangs took this information and used it to blackmail me on all the email accounts I had given the police.

Presentencing was a joke because Social Services do not consider the risk factors that probation use because their viewpoint on risk is different. So I didn't have the knowledge of these risks to present my good character well. My 10 months in paid therapy didn't count for much if anything neither did my medical history (another fail, the NHS refuse to treat you if pending trial, and do not have the specialised services for people with your 'condition' anyway, so again you can't mitigate with mental health issues, which had seriously aggravated my offending). Mental health, as we know, is not taken seriously by the government.

When I entered the probabtion system I was clinically depressed and suicidal. Probation took my unhappiness and talk of suicide as resistance, and continously dialled up the risk with the police even after 10 months when I attempted suicide at a probation appointment and was hospitalised. Even now, they use cameras to track my car and interrogate me as to where I have have been. I fight a constant battle with depression and suicidal thoughts but the NHS continously bounce me around their frontline as they don't do suicidal thoughts or probationers (they cannot change my circumstances so don't want to counsel me). Probation of course say this is my fault as I want to 'hurt them' by commiting suicide. Thats a new one to me....

The police have bullied me in keeping quiet and I am now drug dependent. I used to be an IT professional with a very successful life, even if a very poor relationship. They effectively ended my long term relationship with notification procedures. Even now they are tightening the SHPO so I cannot do ad-hoc work with client computers just 'in case' I download IIOC even though the realistic risk is vanishingly small. I also have to tell them, in advance, if I spend a single night away from home just 'in case it might be suspicious'. I would remind you this was an internet based based offence. I have only ever had relationships with women around my own age.

I have been banned from contacting my grandchildren by social services until they are 18 even though no real evidence of risk has ever been presented. I have an unfiltered criminal record until I am 100 years old which basically screws most employment. Probation don't 'do' recruitment advice and the government had no backup plan for nearly a year whilst an agency was being put in place. The agency now in place are still being chronically slow and have been no help. So we lost a year or more.

So its the preamble, and the aftermath, not the sentencing. The actual sentence, although I think its very serious (2 years suspended) for the actual offending, is a drop in the ocean compared with the rest. Sentencing on volume of images, however serious, is pointless, as you can download enough images in one download to send you to prison. It would be far more relevant to look at the bigger picture, ie. how long the behaviour had been going on, what actual impact there was (any actual victims or just presumed), any contact offences, sexual behavior that might suggest a prediliction towards a contact offence, and so on. It doesn't help that police and probation don't see you, they see the offence and risk, and the sentence (which of course is a SOFT option as its suspended!!!)

Whats needed is some ownership and positive tasking. The free legal advice at the station is not enough. There needs to be offender management, perhaps by probation, who dont do much at the moment in my view other than mentally torture to extract presumed risk, from day one at least for those who plan to plead guilty. Social services don't have the time or the inclination to to keep families together, and every agency has its own agenda, which is nothing like you would expect.



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ImJack - 29 Oct 20 4:23 PM
As others have mentioned its not necessarily the sentence but what happens afterwards. But it can be worse than that.

When arrested for possession of indecent images of children (IIOC) everything was what you might expect. I was bailed (albeit 50 miles away) to an address away from my family.

However once Social Services had branded me a child abuser (to my face/ first meeting) and investigated, despite finding nothing wrong and my kids happy and successful, they closed their case (2 months). The Metropolitan police then continously abused the extended bail process to extend the investigation to over 12 months. This destroyed my family life, my ability to work, and my children lost their father as social services put the boot in with my wife to the point she gave up supporting me. Whenever I asked the police about getting back with my family, even for a short holiday, they would say stuff like 'social services wouldn't like it' and take no action. There was none of the supposed liaison because social services refused to re-open their case until I was sentenced (I'd pleaded guilty). So completely stuffed. The police also used my personal information and passwords on the darkweb which I told them I didn't have an account on, and honeytrap gangs took this information and used it to blackmail me on all the email accounts I had given the police.

Presentencing was a joke because Social Services do not consider the risk factors that probation use because their viewpoint on risk is different. So I didn't have the knowledge of these risks to present my good character well. My 10 months in paid therapy didn't count for much if anything neither did my medical history (another fail, the NHS refuse to treat you if pending trial, and do not have the specialised services for people with your 'condition' anyway, so again you can't mitigate with mental health issues, which had seriously aggravated my offending). Mental health, as we know, is not taken seriously by the government.

When I entered the probabtion system I was clinically depressed and suicidal. Probation took my unhappiness and talk of suicide as resistance, and continously dialled up the risk with the police even after 10 months when I attempted suicide at a probation appointment and was hospitalised. Even now, they use cameras to track my car and interrogate me as to where I have have been. I fight a constant battle with depression and suicidal thoughts but the NHS continously bounce me around their frontline as they don't do suicidal thoughts or probationers (they cannot change my circumstances so don't want to counsel me). Probation of course say this is my fault as I want to 'hurt them' by commiting suicide. Thats a new one to me....

The police have bullied me in keeping quiet and I am now drug dependent. I used to be an IT professional with a very successful life, even if a very poor relationship. They effectively ended my long term relationship with notification procedures. Even now they are tightening the SHPO so I cannot do ad-hoc work with client computers just 'in case' I download IIOC even though the realistic risk is vanishingly small. I also have to tell them, in advance, if I spend a single night away from home just 'in case it might be suspicious'. I would remind you this was an internet based based offence. I have only ever had relationships with women around my own age.

I have been banned from contacting my grandchildren by social services until they are 18 even though no real evidence of risk has ever been presented. I have an unfiltered criminal record until I am 100 years old which basically screws most employment. Probation don't 'do' recruitment advice and the government had no backup plan for nearly a year whilst an agency was being put in place. The agency now in place are still being chronically slow and have been no help. So we lost a year or more.

So its the preamble, and the aftermath, not the sentencing. The actual sentence, although I think its very serious (2 years suspended) for the actual offending, is a drop in the ocean compared with the rest. Sentencing on volume of images, however serious, is pointless, as you can download enough images in one download to send you to prison. It would be far more relevant to look at the bigger picture, ie. how long the behaviour had been going on, what actual impact there was (any actual victims or just presumed), any contact offences, sexual behavior that might suggest a prediliction towards a contact offence, and so on. It doesn't help that police and probation don't see you, they see the offence and risk, and the sentence (which of course is a SOFT option as its suspended!!!)

Whats needed is some ownership and positive tasking. The free legal advice at the station is not enough. There needs to be offender management, perhaps by probation, who dont do much at the moment in my view other than mentally torture to extract presumed risk, from day one at least for those who plan to plead guilty. Social services don't have the time or the inclination to to keep families together, and every agency has its own agenda, which is nothing like you would expect.



Hi,

You raise a lot of good points. The same sentence will affect different people in different ways.

Employment - if you were working already and the case doesn't get reported in the media, so that your job continues, then the effect is minimal. Same thing if you are retired and receiving a pension.

But if you are young and you lose your job because of media reporting, then you can potentially face a lifetime without ever being employed again, so the effect is huge.

Relationships - if you are single then the immediate effect will be small, because you will never have any contact with the SS, although the long term consequences could still be significant. But if you were in a relationship at the time and had kids, then you can lose your partner, access to your kids and your home, all in one go, which must be devastating.

In terms of the mental health impact, I would say that this is the real punishment for these offences. A suspended sentence or a community order is no punishment at all and even the unpaid work is nothing, compared to the mental torture caused by the arrest, the long wait for sentencing and the trauma of dealing with the SS, the PPU and probation, although the attitude of individual professionals in those bodies does seem to vary enormously, with some being more helpful than others.

What I would say about mental health services generally is that they are difficult to access and rely on you doing a lot of the leg work yourself. I would not rely on the NHS because their services are rationed, but the charity sector tend to be more helpful. Organisations like MIND, CALM, SANE etc. They all have an online presence and a helpline. List below.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

But for those who have been sentenced for an iioc offence, the people in the best place to advise you are undoubtedly Lucy Faithful, because they deal with the consequences of these offences every day and they have probably encountered every situation, like problems with the SS breaking up families, suicidal thoughts and they can even help with employment issues. So that should be the first port of call for anyone who is struggling.

One of the issues around mental health and risk generally is the authorities think that a person's mental instability can be interpreted as a sign of risk. If a person was using porn as their coping mechanism, to deal with their mental health problems and that lead to them offending, then what the authorities want to see now are signs that the person is coping, using a healthier alternative, like anti depressants or therapy, and that they are presenting as calm and in control of their emotions. But if what they actually see is a person who doesn't appear to be coping, and appears unstable, then they will worry that the person may go back to offending again, because that was their coping mechanism before. So it's about managing their perceptions of you, being clear to them that you realise you need help and that you are doing something to help yourself.

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This is very complex to answer because looking at different crimes from a moral perspective, everyone has different views which usually vary from the law.

For example my views are strongly different to the legislation on some of the newer internet based laws. I believe it is unduly harsh that people convicted of something like a "hate crime" or that have "trolled" someone on social media (who usually has antagonised them first) can end up in jail for it whilst the other person who may have had questionable behaviour, walks away scot-free. I also believe that "accessing images" offences are given sentences which are too harsh and that these should be dealt with in a more constructive way i.e. nipped in the bud with some social worker interaction before crushing someones entire life for a lifetime.

I know that many people will disagree with that last view because they see anyone who harms kids as the worst of the worst. It is my view that someone accessing images is vastly different to the type of person who actually physically harms kids but these two are tarred with the same brush.

It is also hard to judge the pain that someone will feel from their specific punishment experiences. For example, I had 136 hours of unpaid work which many would argue is too harsh knowing the details of my case, but I absolutely loved community service so to me this was not a punishment. I also had supervision which although was a doddle, become very annoying for me after I moved area as the new area offender management was a shambles with messing me about and antagonising me. Now perhaps the worst punishment of all is the record and/or public shaming of you as a criminal. This is the part which I think is the harshest as it affects your ability to work, apply for housing, travel to other countries and skyrockets your insurance for many years to come no matter how minor or misunderstood your offence was
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alexh07 - 30 Oct 20 3:36 AM
This is very complex to answer because looking at different crimes from a moral perspective, everyone has different views which usually vary from the law.

For example my views are strongly different to the legislation on some of the newer internet based laws. I believe it is unduly harsh that people convicted of something like a "hate crime" or that have "trolled" someone on social media (who usually has antagonised them first) can end up in jail for it whilst the other person who may have had questionable behaviour, walks away scot-free. I also believe that "accessing images" offences are given sentences which are too harsh and that these should be dealt with in a more constructive way i.e. nipped in the bud with some social worker interaction before crushing someones entire life for a lifetime.

I know that many people will disagree with that last view because they see anyone who harms kids as the worst of the worst. It is my view that someone accessing images is vastly different to the type of person who actually physically harms kids but these two are tarred with the same brush.

It is also hard to judge the pain that someone will feel from their specific punishment experiences. For example, I had 136 hours of unpaid work which many would argue is too harsh knowing the details of my case, but I absolutely loved community service so to me this was not a punishment. I also had supervision which although was a doddle, become very annoying for me after I moved area as the new area offender management was a shambles with messing me about and antagonising me. Now perhaps the worst punishment of all is the record and/or public shaming of you as a criminal. This is the part which I think is the harshest as it affects your ability to work, apply for housing, travel to other countries and skyrockets your insurance for many years to come no matter how minor or misunderstood your offence was

Compared to other European countries are sentences are harsh, and over time they have been increasing - they are  certainly a lot longer than they were in the past. Although I can see the need for prison in some cases, we use it too often in this country. We know that people who are sent to prison as opposed to in the community are more likely to offend. As such judges who choose prison when they have other options could be said to be creating new victims and increasing levels of crime. As much as offenders need to take responsibility for their actions, so do judges and politicians who advocate punishments which are proven to be ineffective. I also agree about the media shaming, this simply does not happen in some other European countries, people are only named and photographed in the most serious of cases. The Criminal Justice System has been used as a political tool for short term gain, but we need long term solutions that are proportional and fair.

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Zack - 30 Oct 20 7:01 AM
alexh07 - 30 Oct 20 3:36 AM
This is very complex to answer because looking at different crimes from a moral perspective, everyone has different views which usually vary from the law.

For example my views are strongly different to the legislation on some of the newer internet based laws. I believe it is unduly harsh that people convicted of something like a "hate crime" or that have "trolled" someone on social media (who usually has antagonised them first) can end up in jail for it whilst the other person who may have had questionable behaviour, walks away scot-free. I also believe that "accessing images" offences are given sentences which are too harsh and that these should be dealt with in a more constructive way i.e. nipped in the bud with some social worker interaction before crushing someones entire life for a lifetime.

I know that many people will disagree with that last view because they see anyone who harms kids as the worst of the worst. It is my view that someone accessing images is vastly different to the type of person who actually physically harms kids but these two are tarred with the same brush.

It is also hard to judge the pain that someone will feel from their specific punishment experiences. For example, I had 136 hours of unpaid work which many would argue is too harsh knowing the details of my case, but I absolutely loved community service so to me this was not a punishment. I also had supervision which although was a doddle, become very annoying for me after I moved area as the new area offender management was a shambles with messing me about and antagonising me. Now perhaps the worst punishment of all is the record and/or public shaming of you as a criminal. This is the part which I think is the harshest as it affects your ability to work, apply for housing, travel to other countries and skyrockets your insurance for many years to come no matter how minor or misunderstood your offence was

Compared to other European countries are sentences are harsh, and over time they have been increasing - they are  certainly a lot longer than they were in the past. Although I can see the need for prison in some cases, we use it too often in this country. We know that people who are sent to prison as opposed to in the community are more likely to offend. As such judges who choose prison when they have other options could be said to be creating new victims and increasing levels of crime. As much as offenders need to take responsibility for their actions, so do judges and politicians who advocate punishments which are proven to be ineffective. I also agree about the media shaming, this simply does not happen in some other European countries, people are only named and photographed in the most serious of cases. The Criminal Justice System has been used as a political tool for short term gain, but we need long term solutions that are proportional and fair.

I agree, it's easy to see why we have such a high rate of reoffending here:

1. Being convicted for something which you didn't believe was fair leaves a sour taste in your mouth, in my case it turned me from an eager engineering graduate to someone who feels absolutely no guilt at all in claiming benefits for life.
2. The knock-on effect of the record leaves many people unemployable which encourages reoffending, there is little chance that I would ever succeed in the already competitive engineering field with my record.
3. People become accustomed to the way of life, for me community service was enjoyable. I'm sure that some people feel the same way about prison to a degree.

I don't plan to reoffend but I have a completely different attitude towards the country now. It seems like in the UK its all about public service workers trying to meet targets to maintain taxpayer funding. I believe that like you said, some countries have a more constructive approach such as not having the record element which affects working etc.




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alexh07 - 6 Nov 20 4:07 AM
Zack - 30 Oct 20 7:01 AM
alexh07 - 30 Oct 20 3:36 AM
This is very complex to answer because looking at different crimes from a moral perspective, everyone has different views which usually vary from the law.

For example my views are strongly different to the legislation on some of the newer internet based laws. I believe it is unduly harsh that people convicted of something like a "hate crime" or that have "trolled" someone on social media (who usually has antagonised them first) can end up in jail for it whilst the other person who may have had questionable behaviour, walks away scot-free. I also believe that "accessing images" offences are given sentences which are too harsh and that these should be dealt with in a more constructive way i.e. nipped in the bud with some social worker interaction before crushing someones entire life for a lifetime.

I know that many people will disagree with that last view because they see anyone who harms kids as the worst of the worst. It is my view that someone accessing images is vastly different to the type of person who actually physically harms kids but these two are tarred with the same brush.

It is also hard to judge the pain that someone will feel from their specific punishment experiences. For example, I had 136 hours of unpaid work which many would argue is too harsh knowing the details of my case, but I absolutely loved community service so to me this was not a punishment. I also had supervision which although was a doddle, become very annoying for me after I moved area as the new area offender management was a shambles with messing me about and antagonising me. Now perhaps the worst punishment of all is the record and/or public shaming of you as a criminal. This is the part which I think is the harshest as it affects your ability to work, apply for housing, travel to other countries and skyrockets your insurance for many years to come no matter how minor or misunderstood your offence was

Compared to other European countries are sentences are harsh, and over time they have been increasing - they are  certainly a lot longer than they were in the past. Although I can see the need for prison in some cases, we use it too often in this country. We know that people who are sent to prison as opposed to in the community are more likely to offend. As such judges who choose prison when they have other options could be said to be creating new victims and increasing levels of crime. As much as offenders need to take responsibility for their actions, so do judges and politicians who advocate punishments which are proven to be ineffective. I also agree about the media shaming, this simply does not happen in some other European countries, people are only named and photographed in the most serious of cases. The Criminal Justice System has been used as a political tool for short term gain, but we need long term solutions that are proportional and fair.

I agree, it's easy to see why we have such a high rate of reoffending here:

1. Being convicted for something which you didn't believe was fair leaves a sour taste in your mouth, in my case it turned me from an eager engineering graduate to someone who feels absolutely no guilt at all in claiming benefits for life.
2. The knock-on effect of the record leaves many people unemployable which encourages reoffending, there is little chance that I would ever succeed in the already competitive engineering field with my record.
3. People become accustomed to the way of life, for me community service was enjoyable. I'm sure that some people feel the same way about prison to a degree.

I don't plan to reoffend but I have a completely different attitude towards the country now. It seems like in the UK its all about public service workers trying to meet targets to maintain taxpayer funding. I believe that like you said, some countries have a more constructive approach such as not having the record element which affects working etc.




Hi Alan,

Yes we do suffer, we complete our sentence and then punished again under the guise of "public safety".
However, and I am going to be blunt (but not offence meant).
You say you was trying to become and engineer though I am not sure which field but that does not matter. To get to Uni you needed to be determined in your studies and (hopefully) in character to some great extent. 
Remember back to the days you struggled with homework or understanding the teachings during a subject you hated. You persevered as you knew your aim would only be achieved by disregarding all other matters and being selfish in your pursuit of your ambitions.

Use that valuable experience now to rejuvenate yourself!

Life on benefits will only be "groundhog" days of disclosure to those at the Job Centre who are overworked, trying to reach targets and will see your unwillingness to progress your life. The lack of funds and constant reminder of a past mistake may take you to places you would not of wished to venture in your past pre-offence life; which may lead you back to taking actions and opportunities that will only worsen your life.

I am sure if you can just once look at yourself without thinking "I have a conviction", focus on the information you store in your brain and the experiences you have in your memory, combine them, then analyse the result to conceive an idea that can be developed to provide not only financial support but more importantly; the emotional support to improve the quality of your life. 

Have a look at the attached, do not dismiss it initially but if you do please revisit it on a bad day. Use it to monitor yourself, you say you have little to do so you have the time Smile

Nothing is real until you have survived it, therefore do not be envious of something you have only seen or heard about. Your life will only become better by challenging the elements that cause you pain.


In other words, other countries are not perfect - look at America.

Any questions please ask and good luck.


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope is for tomorrow else what is left if you remove a mans hope.
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