Tougher sen­tences and a city war zone

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

DEAR Ed­i­tor, Work­ing at a very se­nior level in the prison ser­vice for al­most 30 years, I sat in all lev­els of courts, Mag­is­trates, Ses­sions and As­sizes, then the Crown Courts that we have to­day.

In the 1970s we had real judges and the Recorder of Birm­ing­ham. Bur­glary in those days al­ways at­tracted a de­ter­rent sen­tence start­ing at seven years’ im­pris­on­ment. Three con­sec­u­tive of­fences at­tracted the ac­cu­mu­lated sen­tence of ‘life’ im­pris­on­ment.

I sus­pect that the po­lice have vir­tu­ally given up de­tect­ing crime these days with the pa­thetic sen­tences and bail rules dis­trib­uted by the modern and in­ex­pe­ri­enced of real life ju­di­ciary ad­min­is­ter­ing sen­tenc­ing jus­tice in the courts now.

We had de­ten­tion cen­tres for un­der 21-yearolds of just 14 and 21 days, I never saw any young of­fender ever re­turn to those cen­tres for a sec­ond sen­tence, a real dis­ci­plinary de­ter­rent sen­tence.

We closed those suc­cess­ful cen­tres in Not­ting­hamshire and Wilt­shire, to the amaze­ment of those who wit­nessed their suc­cess in de­ter­ring ju­ve­niles from a life of crime. Less than one per cent of crim­i­nals are re­spon­si­ble for most se­ri­ous crimes. When in­car­cer­ated they can­not com­mit fur­ther crime, a very ba­sic fact of life.

Far too many cat­e­gory C and D in­mates should not be in higher cat­e­gory jails, thereby caus­ing the in­evitable over­crowd­ing. In my day if there was an over­crowd­ing is­sue we opened army camps for cat­e­gory C in­mates and lower risk cat­e­gory B in­mates.

It now ap­pears to be a bar­ris­ter’s ju­di­cial game of pa­thetic and dan­ger­ous mit­i­ga­tion for se­ri­ous crim­i­nals, and such piti­ful and lame ex­cuses to get their clients off a cor­rect and ap­pro­pri­ate sen­tence, cor­rectly putting crim­i­nals out of cir­cu­la­tion and re­duc­ing the so called ‘war zone’ of crime we all have to tol­er­ate in Birm­ing­ham and the West Mid­lands.

Ret­ro­spec­tion achieves lit­tle in life, but if we re­turned to the 1970s style of ju­di­ciary sen­tenc­ing, our city, I guar­an­tee, would not be a war zone of crime.

Michael Kelly, Kings Heath, Birm­ing­ham

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