Sunday, April 29, 2007

Britain: Prison terms LESS likely for violent offenders

Like Leftists everywhere, Left-dominated Britain is always ready to excuse its violent criminals -- probably because of the hate and violence in their own hearts (which shows when, as Communists, they gain absolute power)

Violent criminals are less likely to be sent to prison than non-violent offenders, a shocking Home Office report has revealed. In the latest blow to public confidence in the criminal justice system, a report seen by the Yorkshire Post reveals that just 32 per cent of criminals responsible for violent offences - categorised as everything from murder to assault to obstructing a police officer - are sent to prison. But custodial sentences are handed down to more than 36 per cent of offenders convicted of non-violent offences, such as fraud, theft, burglary, criminal damage, drink-driving and public order offences.

The Home Office study on sentencing and re-offending was met with incredulity and outrage last night by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and other MPs - but Prisons Minister Gerry Sutcliffe insisted the Government had been calling on the independent judiciary to be tougher with dangerous violent offenders. In addition to the sentencing of violent offenders, the report revealed that a widely used alternative punishment to custody, the drug treatment order, has a re-offending rate of 82 per cent.

Another section appeared to contradict Ministers' claims about the dubious long-term effectiveness of prison by stating that "longer custodial sentences are associated with lower proven re-offending rates".

The conclusions emerged yesterday as the Home Office's latest British Crime Survey found public confidence in Britain's criminal justice system was falling. The survey, which questioned tens of thousands of people during 2006 about their experiences of crime, showed that just 42 per cent of people had confidence in the system's ability to bring criminals to justice, down two points from 2005. Only 37 per cent of people believed the system was effective at reducing crime, while 34 per cent thought it met the needs of victims of crime. Both were one point lower than the 2005 responses.

The Home Office "statistical bulletin" on offending, stated: "Violent offenders are less likely to receive a custodial sentence than other offenders." But it sought to lessen the impact of the statement by adding: "'Violence' incorporates a wide range of offences of varying severity." It noted the two most frequent violent offences were common assault and battery, and assault causing actual bodily harm.

On drug treatment orders, the report said they "had the highest actual proven re-offending rate" of any form of punishment in 2004. On the link between the length of custodial sentences and re-offending, the data showed that the longer the sentence, the lower the rate of repeat offending. It also revealed a rise between 2000 and 2004 in re-offending by people imprisoned for less than a year.

David Davis, the Tory MP for Haltemprice and Howden, said: "It beggars belief that under this Government, violent offenders are actually less likely to receive a custodial sentence than other offenders. "It is precisely these types of serious offenders, representing the greatest risk to the public, who should receive a custodial sentence to protect the public." Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies, who led a Parliamentary debate earlier this month calling for more and longer custodial sentences, said people would be "astonished" by the report's revelations. He said: "The fact is that the system is soft on violent crime, that drug orders don't work and that, contrary to what the liberal do-gooders say, prison works."

Defending the Home Office, Prison Minister Mr Sutcliffe, the Bradford West MP, told the Yorkshire Post: "We've introduced harsher sentences and made sure there are places in prison for dangerous and violent people, who should be treated more severely. But sentences are for the judges to decide, not for politicians." On drug treatment orders and the effectiveness of prison, he added: "Drug-related offenders are harder to deal with and we recognise they are a problem which is why we've increased funding for drug treatment by 974 per cent since 1997. "But we've got to remember that not everyone should go to prison. We need to tackle and break the re-offending process by offering people a holistic solution involving education and jobs."


Cho's biggest victim: Freedom

As students returned to Virginia Tech yesterday, the college rang a bell for each of the 32 victims of the massacre. But to judge by the discussion of the past week, there is another potential victim for whom the bell could be tolling: freedom. We have heard more than enough about the horrors of what happened on the campus, and the narcissistic ramblings of Cho Seung Hui. We have also heard far too many simplistic theories and pat solutions. There is now almost an A-to-Z of who or what was allegedly to blame: from America, Bullying and Campus security to Video games, Xenophobia and the Y chromosome. (The one that is often missing is C for Cho - in an age when anybody can be a victim, many appear to accept his plea that "they" made him do it.)

Moral crusaders are trying to recruit the dead of Virginia Tech to support all manner of pet causes. But one way or another, all seem to agree that the problem is too much freedom. These powerful responses pose a bigger threat than any lone gunman. Apparently the shootings prove the need for more restrictions, not just on guns but on violent video games, rap lyrics, eBay and the news. More security and tighter lockdowns on campuses, more powers for the police. And perhaps most of all, we are told there is a need for tighter controls on people who seem loners and oddballs, like Cho. Once, America's legal system was seen as a global beacon of freedom. Now the world is offered the alternative model of new Labour's authoritarian Mental Health Bill, granting the authorities the power to lock up those deemed to have a personality disorder even if they have committed no offence.

There is no evidence that any of these illiberal measures would make violence less likely or the rest of us safer. But banging on about the need for them can definitely make society more fearful, and less free. Just as passing draconian antiterror laws marks a victory for the bombers, so accepting the postVirginia view of "too much" liberty would be a defeat for democracy.

It is even more important to stand up for freedom during hard times like these. For an old British libertarian Marxist like me, that includes defending Americans' right to bear arms; some British commentators might think that right "bizarre" and "extraordinary", but then their forebears thought much the same about the revolution that gave rise to it.

Cho wreaked enough carnage; let's not volunteer anybody else to be his victims. Why should we want to reorganise the laws and outlooks of entire nations out of fear of the odd madman? Why should the lives and liberties of 300 million in America be altered thanks to the isolated actions of one individual? That really would be allowing the lunatics to take over the asylum.


Islamic incitement to violence in Australia

A VIDEO posted on a hardline Islamic website to promote a soccer tournament in western Sydney has outraged Muslim leaders by featuring an Arabic song often used by al-Qaeda to promote jihad. The song calls on militants to "exterminate" non-believers and make them "hear the tunes of death". The video is used by the Global Islamic Youth Centre, headed by radical cleric Faiz Mohamad, who has praised jihadists and compared Jews to pigs.

It plays the jihad tune, which also says "we shall go to heaven fearing no death", to images of local and international soccer players displaying their skills. Bomb explosions and missiles launching form part of the music in the clip promoting the Liverpool Youth Cup. "With the swords we shall exterminate the infidels and death is the desire of the pure," one translated verse says. "With jihad the banners of the evident victory shall rise high. "We shall go to heaven fearing no death. We shall not waver ... we are the cubs of the victorious conquerors."

Senior Muslim leader Ameer Ali attacked the seemingly "hidden agenda" of the video, which was pulled down by GIYC yesterday afternoon following The Weekend Australian's inquiry. "I'm worried and I am concerned there is a hidden message behind this soccer tournament (promotion)," said the former chairman of John Howard's Muslim reference board. "This sort of message should be avoided. Why bring controversy into a sports match? Sport promotes co-operation, friendliness - that's what you expect from sport."

Prominent Sydney-based cleric Khalil Shami also condemned the video, saying it was wrong to conflate sporting images and "fighting". He attacked the fundamentalist GIYC for further damaging the Muslim community's standing in the eyes of mainstream Australia. "I don't know how they are driving this community - they drive it in a very, very bad way," said the imam at Penshurst mosque in Sydney's southwest. "It's not fair for the community. Why mix sport with the fighting? Why?"

GIYC's president, Zunaid Moosa, yesterday told The Weekend Australian that he was unaware of what the song meant because he didn't speak Arabic. He said Islamic songs were often chosen for video-clips based on their "catchy" tune, and denied having anything to do with the production of the clip. "Often a lot of anasheed (Islamic vocal music) we got no idea (about) because we are not Arabic-speaking people," he said. "It would just be more of a tempo of the beat and a catchy type tune, that's all."

A list of sponsors on the soccer clip includes charity group Human Appeal International and Krispy Kreme Donuts. A spokesman yesterday said HAI was not aware that GIYC had any political agendas when it agreed to sponsor the event. But a spokeswoman for Krispy Kreme denied the organisation had sponsored the soccer tournament and said she would take the matter up with GIYC.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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