One of the books in my queue is David Fraser’s A Land Fit for Criminals: An Insider’s View of Crime, Punishment and Justice in the UK. The synopsis states:
In this meticulously researched study of the British criminal justice system, author David Fraser, a long-serving Senior Probation Officer, offers a clear-sighted and persuasive analysis of how and why the country faces the spiraling crime figures it does today. Fraser addresses government policy since World War II, showing how the belief that ‘prisons do not work’ became a central plank of criminal justice policy and charts the disastrous consequences that this had for the British public. He examines in detail how the workings of government, Civil Service, judiciary, police and Probation Service have all become perverted by a philosophy that seeks to uphold the ‘rights’ of the criminal rather than those of their victims. Finally, he argues that only by sending the country’s large numbers of persistent criminals to prison for increasingly long periods will we be able to head off the social, political and civic catastrophe that looms in Britain today. Accessible and lucidly written, “A Land Fit for Criminals” will appeal to both those involved in the criminal justice system and to general readers concerned about the issues affecting Britain today.
The book was published in 2006. Four years later, nothing much seems to have changed. In a recent headline from The London Evening Standard entitled Clarke tackles record jail numbers, we get this update on the British “justice” system:
Murderers could serve less time in prison under Government plans that would see shorter sentences, fewer criminals in jail and more offenders handed fines or community sentences.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke outlined plans which would give judges more discretion over how long killers should spend behind bars.
A “simpler, more sensible” approach that “leaves the judge to do justice in the individual case” will be put in place.
Other plans include letting foreign nationals escape jail as long as they leave the UK forever, wiping the slate clean for young offenders when they reach 18 so they are not hindered by a criminal record, and halving sentences for those who plead guilty early.
As I’ve noted previously, it appears that a “life” sentence for murder in the UK is actually about 15 years.
Nope. Not much has changed at all.