Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Something worth rioting about?

I was going to point out some of the fucking stupid sentences that have handed down to "rioters", but I see that the wife has done the job more than adequately.
I’m not sure I need to make this comment, but: what kind of justice is this when two people of previous good character receive lengthy custodial sentences for making remarks on Facebook, but a third person who has a long, long history of criminal behaviour is given a suspended sentence for being caught with stolen goods?
...

It is outrageous that remarks on Facebook merit a longer, harsher jail sentence than some rapes and murders, let alone theft and looting.

But what is really outrageous is that making remarks on Facebook can be criminalised at all. Perhaps Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan can band together with Paul Chambers and his supporters to help stamp out this fascist British tendency toward criminalisation of speech.

And it seems that NickM has noticed the discrepancies too.

For the rule of law to prevail, justice has to be seen to be done—else the entire system is brought into disrepute. And today it has been.

Apart from anything else, why are we jailing rioters—surely these crimes are precisely the reason that Community Orders were introduced? In the case of these rioters, what could be more fitting than for a judge to say, "you made a fucking mess of this neighbourhood, so you are going to spend 300 hours cleaning it up"?

But that's not going to happen. Why?

Because the government has apparently told judges to ignore the usual sentencing guidelines and jail all dissidents rioters.
London courts have allegedly been emailed by HM Courts and Tribunals Service, telling them to ignore normal guidelines, which might have recommended non-custodial sentences for riot-related cases.

‘Our directive for anyone involved in the rioting is a custodial sentence,’ he said.

So, let me get this straight: judges are free to hand down derisory sentences to repeat offenders, but should jail those of previously good character who happen to have severely embarrassed the government...?

Why doesn't the Coalition just open up some forced labour Community Service gulags sumer camps in some god-awful bracing part of the country—the Shetlands, perhaps—and just send all the rioters there for a nice bit of overwork, starvation and death holiday? After all, it would go down well with the Tory faithful...

Although...

A bunch of ill-behaved, doomed, psychotic little shits trapped on an island, equipped only with their wits and viciousness for survival...?

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

9 comments:

Jonathan Miller said...

Read these articles and see whether you still think the sentences excessive. I think they put it into context quite well (though I agree the discrepancy is odd)

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/Misc/2011/12.html

Andrew said...

"A bunch of ill-behaved, doomed, psychotic little shits trapped on an island, equipped only with their wits and viciousness for survival...?"

The rioters or the politicians?

Or maybe both.

mongoose said...

The point about riot is that rioters let go of their personal moral codes. That's what a riot is. That's why rioting is so dangerous and the incitement to it is so bad. Consider "The Riot Act". Effectively the reading of it suspended the common law restraint of proportionality - because riots and rioters cannot be so appealed to. So the incitement to riot - however stupidly and vapidly done - it isn't just commenting on FB. It is not free speech. It is shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre. It is swinehood which may have ended in death and destruction, as it did elsewhere. Perhaps the kiddies have learned something. I remember from long ago football supporters leaving notes on corridor noticeboards advertising future "rucks" at matches. It is the same. Swine. Jail. Deterrence. Learning. Fuck 'em.

john in cheshire said...

In the '70s, when I was at University, there was a spate of letter bombs being sent by the IRA. I remember sending a very bulky letter to a friend with all sorts of statements on the covering implying it was a letter bomb. It was a joke. No sooner had I posted it than I read of another young man who had done something similar and been imprisoned for it. For days I was terrified that I might also suffer the same consequence. Fortunately for me the letter was delivered and nothing untoward happened. In light of that, I just wonder if these two people were also doing something that sounded stupidly funny at the time but was without any criminal intent. If so, then the law has let them down. Surely imprisoning these two and shackling them with a criminal record is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut? In normal, decent times, they'd have a talking to down at the nick.

Tony Lorusso said...

Restorative justice sentencing is a great idea, and one the politicians will only talk about under carefully controlled circumstances, because applied universally it will expose non-crimes for the injustice they are because the judge will convict you and be at a complete loss as to a sentence to restore the non-existent victim back to before your "crime".

Tony Lorusso said...

mongoose, your analogy.. close, but no biscuit.

There is a demonstrable difference between the very visceral experience of hearing someone shout fire whilst in the same crowded theater as them, and someone posting on Facebook to go and riot somewhere.

It's an awful thing to say, but if saying awful things was an offence, manye politicians and priests should be locked up and the bible, amongst many books, would need to be banned as being the vilest kind of hate speech.

So even if that's the standard, which I disagree with, it's not being applied consistently.

But then the law of course frequently bears no resemblance to morality, and more to society's prejudices and bigotries.

FlipC said...

Point of order - sentencing guidelines come from the Sentencing Council not HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

They may have forwarded these on, but they have no jurisdiction in setting them.

FlipC said...

Checking the news it seems the SC think these sentences are harsh which does suggest that it was HMCRT that who gave the instructions out.

Which is interesting as that's not part of their job.. ah here we go
http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/features/feature170811b.htm

So who set these 'guidelines'? Methinks this has the aroma of politics about it.

Roger Thornhill said...

To me, if people responded, if there was actual conspiracy and momentum, then that is different.

If it was to numpties mouthing off to an empty chamber, then that is different.

If they mouthed off, people responded and they then chickened out? Well, that is a possibility. Speaking about wanting to do something and conspiracy surely needs third parties?

Maybe I am wrong. I would be interested to hear.