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Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Bleeding-heart New Statesman style twaddle on page 20 of today's Times from a column by John Kampfner:
That we have one of the highest per capita incarceration rates in the developed world seems lost on the bellicose "prison works" lobby.It's not lost on them. They know and they don't care. The per capita incaceration rate in Britain relative to some other countries is a matter of indifference to them. Kampfner is trying to say - or rather jumping straight over saying - that if prison is so great how come Britain has a high incarceration rate and yet still has quite high crime? But his assumption that those who disagree only disagree because they have failed to understand is annoying in a way I associate with Mr Blair. Scarcely anyone in the "prison works" lobby can have got as far as being in a lobby without meeting that argument and getting over it. Getting over it is not hard. "Prison works" is a more modest claim than "incaceration rate x will result in crime rate y." "Prison works" merely says that crime rate y would be higher if prison were not used. It says nothing about the multifarious causes that can make crime rate y high or low to start with.
Incidentally, something I've never understood is why the "prison does not work" lobby never seem to come out and advocate that all the prisons be dismantled. You'd think it would follow.
And it is good to hear Lord Falconer of Thoroton recognising the “aching” pain of murder victims’ families, and promising to allow them to make statements in court about how their loss has affected them. Perhaps he has forgotten that he (and Mr Blair) belong to the profession that has always turned the knife in bereaved families’ wounds by mouthing murderers’ defences, traducing the characters of murder victims, while their families have listened helplessly.Because everyone accused of murder is guilty. Because never in all history has anyone been had up for murder through mistaken identity, or when all they were trying to do was defend themselves from attack, or when the killing was accidental. Nor has there ever been a justified defence of provocation or manslaughter or extenuating circumstances in legal history. Furthermore even if by some impossible chance any person ended up in the dock for murder who was not fully a murderer then obviously all he has to do read a few law books and jolly well speak up for himself. Who could possibly be so ignorant or inarticulate as to need some steenking lawyer to tell him what the law is or to "mouth" his defence? These things being so, we should only have prosecution lawyers. On second thoughts, why bother with trials at all?