Tougher sentences and a city war zone
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