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Locking rioters up will only serve to make the divisions in society worse – far worse

The rioting or wanton criminality that we saw last last week (whatever you want to call it) was both disturbing and horrifying. Plenty of people got involved who were just along for the ride and they deserve some sort of punishment. However we are seeing sentences that I personally deem disproportionate and down right unfair.

Take for the example the two eejits who got four years for Facebook posts. Yes just posting on Facebook trying to organise some criminality gets four years. Look I know these two guys are complete pillocks and probably deserve some jail time (although I can easily be persuaded that they don’t need to see the inside of a jail cell and that spending a year or two doing community service would be far more valuable to the community than having them locked up inside) but four years considering people get less – a lot less for actually doing things including violent crimes – heck even death due to careless driving can get less. Killing someone can get you less time in jail than a bit of idiotic Facebook action. Are we freaking serious?

That disgusts me but the following I actually find far more troublesome and worrying and that is the amount of people being held on remand. To me that is terrifying. Remand should be for the safety of the public or in most circumstances to ensure a defendant cannot get to and intimidate the witnesses. Essentially it is putting people in jail even though they have not done any wrong in the eyes of the law as yet and it should be used sparingly. I read somewhere the other day that it is usually around 10% of those charged for offences deemed serious enough for crown court are put on remand but that so far we are seeing nearer 67% of those charged for offences during these riots are going on remand. That is crazy.

I know many think I’m far too lightweight on crime. I’m not. I just like to think of ways to combat crime not only in the short term but also the long term. I also don’t like seeing people in jail cells who haven’t been convicted of any crime. I know in some cases there are real reasons for remand and I accept that but can I accept that 67% of those charged in the past week need to be on remand? Quite simply No. No I cannot.

You are without a doubt putting innocent people inside. Sadly that is a fact of life. Our judicial system is far from perfect but the amount of people being put on remand for offences during these riots are causing me a deep sense of unease. I know it is cool at the moment to hate on all these people but remember first of all every case needs to be tried on its merits on an individual basis. This isn’t guilt by association and we shouldn’t convict that way. I know people want stiff sentences but will stiff sentences lead to less crime in the future? Is locking up morons for a while with hardened criminals really going to help or will it lead to more lives of crime?

I know what my money is on.

David Cameron thinks that society is broken because people are selfish and have no morals but it’s not. There are bad eggs in every generation and every so often they will come to the fore. Most people are good people and that small percentile of bad eggs should not taint the whole of society. I suspect there are far more racists and sexists out there than those who are involved in criminality from dysfunctional backgrounds. Yet we gloss over casual racism and sexism as they are accepted and we go after the most front and centre problem. The problem is we are not all treated equal is every facet of society. When we treat the mentally ill with the same dignity as we treat Mensa members then we’ll be going in the right direction. When we treat the wheelchair bound the same as we do Olympic athletes then we’ll be going in the right direction. When we treat people with different coloured skin and different accents the same as we treat the person who has never left his or her home village then we’ll be going in the right direction.

Society isn’t broken because of what the M thinks. It is broken because of a lack of respect and that is something that many adults teach their kids. Until everyone teaches and preaches that we are all born equal – every single one of us – then people will be even more prejudiced and society will never be a utopian one. Going after troublemakers with a heavy hand now will only cause further rifts between communities and whilst short term the tension may decrease – long term it will bubble up and be even far worse.

David Cameron is so short sighted on this one it frightens me. It frightens me a lot and I hope and pray (figure of speech – I don’t pray) that the Liberal Democrats in this coalition will loudly and proudly stick their heads above water and cool this one down. Locking people up is rarely the answer and is this case it really isn’t. Until people believe they belong then they’ll have little respect. Locking them up won’t make them feel like they belong at all and that my friends will only go and make this a whole lot worse for the next generation that comes through.

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