Friday, February 03, 2012

Three strikes

I enjoy reading JuliaM but, since she appears to be the unofficial record-keeper of the underclass, it is sometimes rather depressing. One of the most irritating things is the number of people who come before the court who have tens and tens of convictions for burglary, violence, etc.

Your humble Devil is now of the opinion that we should adopt something similar to the USA's "three strikes" rule. It would go a little like this:
  1. Three convictions for any unexpended crime automatically means prison.

  2. Three custodial convictions—suspended or otherwise—means life imprisonment. By which I mean that you will be eligible for parole after 25 years, but released on licence for the rest of your life: another conviction puts you straight back in the cells.

Any objections?

UPDATE: In the comments, Richard quite rightly points out that...
The problem is that you can get a suspended sentence for relatively minor offences.

Your immediate response to this might well be "so what?" And this would, I think, be quite reasonable. After all, the mugger might think that punching someone in the street and stealing their phone is a pretty minor thing really, but the victim doesn't.

But you might also think, as Richard does, that the whole thing is rather disproportionate.

First, it needs to be pointed out that those who are convicted of a crime need to go through quite a few safeguards: first they must actually be caught (odds against, there), then they must be actually convicted. And this must happen three times. One of the fuckers referred to in JuliaM's story had 145 convictions—that is not bad luck, that is a criminal lifestyle.

And every one of those 145 convictions represents a little more misery introduced to someone else's life; and, on the balance of probability, every one of those 145 convictions masks a myriad others for which he was not caught or convicted.

Second, whilst one might get a suspended sentence for relatively minor offences, I found out (about a year ago) that offending whilst on a suspended sentence does not mean that you go to prison. Yes, really.

When I was done for drink-driving, I was in the court for the case before me. The gentleman concerned was under two orders—a Community Payback and Supervision—and a suspended sentence. Plus he had been convicted two weeks before of theft, and had a sentence pending. And what actually happened?

All sentences were quashed and rolled up into one Supervision Order.

Despite all of the above, the gentleman who had been convicted of three thefts in the space of two months (including one whilst under a suspended sentence) got a lesser punishment than myself (who, whilst drunk, damaged nothing and killed no one).

I don't dispute my sentence—it was within the guidelines—but I do question his.

Third, the whole point of incredibly harsh sentences is to give you the opportunity not to commit crime. Because, here's the rub: I don't want more criminals to be caught. Nor do I want harsher sentences.

No, much as for Peel's police, the aim is "the absence of crime and disorder", not the more effective capturing and punishment of those who do it.

Unfortunately, the chances of being caught—let alone convicted—are pretty low: as such, you need to make the punishments extremely high in order to ensure that people think twice before they commit the crime in the first place.

"OK," says the potential criminal. "The chances of my being caught burgling this property is pretty low. On the other hand, if I am caught, I am going to be severely fucked. In the showers. By a huge man called Bubba."

Finally, I am willing to concede that there are a massive number of intrusive, unnecessary and unpleasant laws around: how many new offences did NuLabour create every year—thousands, wasn't it?

So, I shall make a compromise: the Three Strikes proposal above will apply, initially, only to those criminals who initiate force or fraud against someone's life, liberty or property. In other words, if you are caught with drugs, it won't apply: if you beat someone to a pulp or burgle their house, it will.

Does that seem fairer?


Richard said...

So after 3 suspended sentences you could get 25 years in prison, that seems a little disproportionate to say the least!

Mr Angry said...

I'd go for hanging the bastards myself. Or maybe put them on a "I'm a criminal, get me out of here!" style show where the "winner" (voted for by the public) gets shot.

Where's the downside in that??

Anonymous said...

All the time ingesting a non government approved mind altering substance is illegal I'd disagree with you.

But yeah, if we stripped away all the silly laws then sure...


WitteringsfromWitney said...

Nope and @Richard, the problem is?

john in cheshire said...

Could we at least purge the country of socialists/communists/greens/fascists first, because they are inherently the cause of the over production of criminals. Once they have gone then your proposals are eminently sensible, especially since, I believe, there will be no need for recourse to them.

Richard said...

The problem is that you can get a suspended sentence for relatively minor offences. For example someone could receive 3 separate suspended sentences totalling up to 3 years in prison but under the proposed system they would receive 25 years rather than a possible 3. That is what is incredibly disproportionate about such a system, it penalises offenders regardless of the severity of their crimes just as long as they pass an arbitrary number of offences they can be deprived of a lifetime of liberty. Sounds like a great plan. Not to mention the fact that the prison population would explode, as it has done in US states where similar laws have been implemented.

SadButMadLad said...

I would go for proper sentences in the first place. No need for three strikes before you get put down. You get put down on your first time. None of this namby-pamby, wishy-washy, goody-goody, hoity-toity, I'll let you off this time because you said you have a baby or because you are going to go straight or it was a momement of madness decisions by liberal judges and magistrates who are probably advised to not put people in prison because the jails are so full of people who shouldn't be there in the first place.

Anonymous said...

My friend was burlged two weeks ago... Nobody in the house, smashed the back window & just took electronic items. Pretty minor right?

She lives alone & is now pretty much terrified incase they come back (rented property, can't afford to install double glazing so it's more secure). As such we've rotated who of our friends group stays over there with her so she can get some sleep.

Why should it take 3 strikes for these scumbags? Who gives a fuck about causation? We can work on the parenting / kids as a seperate issue - the people on the street now just need locking up. Any violence, breaking & entering or destructive behaviour should see harsh custodial sentences.

And it''s bullshit that prison just creates more hardened criminals. They've personal choice. They've personal responsibility. If they commit a further crime double the sentence continuously.

Alex said...

" every one of those 145 convictions masks a myriad others for which he was not caught or convicted. "

1,450,000 offences? Seems a bit high.

Devil's Kitchen said...


Maybe. Or not (see definition 1).


JuliaM said...

Cheers for link!

My dream would be to one day sit here at my keyboard unable to write for lack of material, and have to blog about kittens, or something.

Sadly, it's unlikely - next two weeks are fully scheduled. :(

Mr Ecks said...

The outrageous 3-strikes injustices in the USA (people who have been reformed for 20-30 years,is involved in some petty wtong-doing--often thro' no fault of their own and get the rest of their life in jail)point this as a stupid idea DK. Are you "outgrowing" liberty and, like Guido, heading for the sunlight uplands of fat-arsed High-Torydom?

1-All non-violent crims to go to jail and work off their debts. They should have a choice about working but if they don't they will be kept under conditions that will make Old Newgate jail look like luxury. They work until their thieving or damage is paid +victim compensation +legal fees (fees will be controlled to stop law dogs cashing in). The more they steal, the longer they will be in for(wannabe Madoff's will realise they are giving themselves a life sentence). The harder they work, the sooner they are out. If they educate themselves (via classes, i-net etc) and upgrade their skills then they can get out sooner. There should be no elememt BTW of the American corporate socialist system that uses prisioners as slaves to earn cash for the state and its henchmen. All the money the crims earn goes to undo and compensate for the damage they have done,
2-Violent crims to be punished by violent means. Beat and be beaten,stab and be stabbed etc. Quick, simple and cheap--no need for years of expensive jail. If you want to lay it on thick, then they can be medically treated after their punishment but no anesthetics allowed.Lets see if violence wannabes like knowing that what they do to others will be done to them.

A much better system all-round, one which will deter, will cost less and be far less open to abuse by the scum of the state.

WV:paria I kid you not

Anonymous said...

No need for a crude setup, just take past offences into account. If you have a conviction, then get done again for a 2yr offence, double it to 4. Then get done for another 2yr offence, treble it to 6.

The details can be worked on, it's a pretty simple principle: criminal lifestyle costs.

Loki said...

@ Mr Ecks.

A truley sound proposal and one I would endorse :)

Anonymous said...

Mr Ecks.

Point 1 is fine, but doesn't deal with rich people who steal. They can easily compensate their victims double when caught. You still need to lock them up.

Mr Ecks said...

Anon:4.47 pm

Why would someone who is already rich steal, in the sense of burglerising your house or picking your pocket?

Lots of rich people might be said to be engaging in white collar crimes but these are rarely something that can be proven as a direct, straightforward "crime". For every Madoff whose crime took him from well to do (I don't believe he started from being poor) to mega-rich there are dozens of "businessmen" on the merry go round of corporate socialism who quote low prices to secure government contracts and then do a crap job. That is immoral in my book but it would be hard to prove a crime unless someone was paid of etc.
Sure, rich people could afford to waste their money burglarising you (remember this is for non-violent crime) but it seems a foolish way of transfering money to the less well of.
If they should be rich thrill-seekers who rob and trash your house and shite on your living room rug (shades of The Big Lebowski) just for sick kicks, because they are rich enough to, then a sliding scale could be worked out to punish them financially.

Steve Perrett said...

Can we also sterilise them? That would stop the passing on of the 'Moron' gene.

Anonymous said...

"after 3 suspended sentences you could get 25 years in prison"

You can only get a suspended sentence if you have ALREADY passed the Custody threshold.

The proper wording of a SS is (from memory):
"For this crime, we are sentencing you to in Custody. In making this sentence we have take account of . - pause - However, we are suspending this sentence for a period of , subject to ."

A suspended sentence _is_ a custodial sentence.

For example, if a condition of suspension is a Drug Treatment Order, and the criminal refuses to go on the DTO, then the custodial sentence should be invoked in full.

And, to get back on topic, we could make UK Custody laws MUCH tougher, without a full 'three strikes law'. Currently, half of ALL custodial sentences (indeterminate sentences aside) is served on licence in the community.

This automatic 50% reduction in custodial time means that a 7 year sentence only means 3.5 years. And a 30 day sentence now means less than a week (because the 'overcrowding reduction' that Nu Labour brought in is also factored in).

An automatic 50% off is OK _if_ the perp then keeps their nose clean/ goes straight. However, by their third offence, it's fair to assume that they will not do so.
So why not end this automatic reduction in time spent in custody, for third and subsequent custodial sentences?

I.E.: the repeat offender will serve 100% of the Court's sentence while the first or 2nd time offender will get a reward for good behaviour...



It would far easier to stop them at dover.Has this not been tried before,the last time that the tory scum held power.the biggest hurdle is uman rights innit.

sconzey said...

The problem that you outline isn't a problem with UK sentencing guidelines. The problem is with a judiciary who believe in restorative and rehabilitative justice, rather than the more Libertarian restitative and punitive justice.

Adding a three strikes rule in the current British legal system will end up with gentlemen like the one you saw having their sentencing manipulated to get around the "punitive" and "reactionary" three strikes rule, whilst ordinary law abiding folk find that three counts of smoking in a public place, littering, and driving while under the influence are sufficient to have them sent to jail.

This is aside from the fact that there are many problems with the "three strikes" rule alone. Most importantly: they reduce the marginal cost of subsequent, more severe crimes.

So in the US, a burglar who's on his third strike has little incentive to do a burglary rather than an armed-burglary. Killing the house's occupant adds little to his sentence, but removing a witness significantly reduces the chance he'll be caught and convicted.

Wearysider said...

I'm reminded of 'A Man of all Seasons' passage :

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the devil?

Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? . . . And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? . . . This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down . . . d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? . . . Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Anonymous said...

Your sentence wasn't tough enough anyway. Just because you didn't harm anyone or damage simply means you were lucky. You could have EASILY killed someone, you daft pikey.

Anonymous said...

Caught pilling/smoking/siding/snorting 3 times and it's life imprisonment?......

Anonymous said...

been there before been caught to lokie dat
text for free at

Skimmer said...

This is such a dumb assed, ill considered OP that my respect for this site has plummeted.


Steve Perrett said...

I feel the problem might lie in the extraordinary number of laws we have! Cut the number of laws, cut the crime figures. Having been in the unenviable position of having been burgled twice! I can tell you that I would love to see the little shits locked up for a very long time! I don't consider somebody smoking a joint, or dropping a cigarette butt a crime.

Lord T said...

I'm more of the view that the sentence reflects the crime and also the history of the offender.

Killing someone = Life or 200 years whichever is the longer.
No problem with repeats there.

each crime has a sentence. So burglary 9 months. This is then calculated with your history. Thus 1st offence = 9 months. Second offence = 3 x 9 months and third 9 x 9 months and so on.

Thus if your next offence is dropping an apple core sentance 1 day you get 12 x 1 day.

that makes it proportional and thus justice. You know the cost for your actions up front and sentences are served in full, unless you pop off first of course.

btw : These captchas are crap

Table Bear said...

No one cares enough about liberty and justice for this to only apply to real criminals. You can guarantee if such a scheme were campaigned for and implemented it would work like this:

One day, David gets arrested growing Cannabis in his cuboard. (a serious drug crime)

A few years later David gets caught with some cannabis on his way back from Amsterdam. (a serious drug manufacture crime)

A few years later David is arrested for having his war hero grandfather's Lee Enfield rifle displayed on his bedroom wall. (a serious gun crime)

David now has life imprisonment and is treated the same as a child murderer.