Pregnant woman’s assailant jailed after appeal


by Rumbold
9th December, 2010 at 1:48 pm    

It was good to see that a man who repeatedly kicked his girlfriend in the head has been jailed for four years by the Court of Appeal, which overturned his original suspended sentence:

[Matthias] Dawson was given a 12-month suspended sentence in August after admitting GBH with intent at Inner London Crown Court. The appeal against the sentence was brought by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC – the first time he has taken such action since taking office in May.

Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Minister, is right to be looking at reducing the number of people in prison. It is unclear how locking up large numbers of non-violent offenders (especially drug users) benefits society as a whole (though there are some non-violent crimes which deserve such sentences), especially given the high re-offending rates. For crimes such as violent assault though, prison should always be the outcome, as such people need to be locked up to protect others from them. It is unclear what the point of a suspended sentence is in this case. Nor was this an isolated incident. Three teenagers tortured an autistic boy for days and received only community orders and suspended sentences in October:

The gang used a mobile phone to film themselves carrying out depraved assaults on their 17-year-old victim. During a sickening spree of violence the three thugs kicked and stamped on his head, repeatedly punched him in the chest, beat him with a tennis racket and then threw him down a steep embankment.

The terrified teenager – who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism – was also pelted with dog mess, had his limbs scratched with sandpaper and was forced to drink vodka and gin until he passed out.

Mobile phone footage showed the yobs laughing and joking as they made him endure other abuse and, in a final humiliating assault, they applied adhesive tape to his genital area before ripping the tape off.


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Filed in: Civil liberties,Current affairs,Disability






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  1. sunny hundal

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  2. Maria Harvey

    Excellent. RT @sunny_hundal Blogged: : Pregnant woman's assailant jailed after appeal http://bit.ly/fHE5U0




  1. Don — on 9th December, 2010 at 7:26 pm  

    I’d agree with that, Rumbold.

  2. Arif — on 11th December, 2010 at 7:40 pm  

    I think we are far from getting a justice system which meets its goals. And the goals aren’t explicit enough.

    I am assuming the goal is both retribution and rehabilitation. Are they compatible goals? And then Rumbold, you make the case for something else – keeping them off the streets, not apparently as a deterrent but maybe from a principle of risk reduction, or quasi-protection of society. Under that principle, why ever let them out in future? Is it that you also believe in rehabilitation? In which case why would rehabilitation not be possible under community orders or suspended sentences? Is it that immediate rehabilitation fails to meet a standard for retribution?

    And then there is the question of expense – keeping people in prison is very expensive. In humane conditions it may be even more expensive. With effective rehabilitative programmes thrown in, you would probably lead to a taxpayers revolt!

    How did we get here, and why are so many countries dealing with crime in such similar ways – through prison institutions? It must have something going for it – but it looks to me like a holding operation until we can work out something better.

  3. Rumbold — on 11th December, 2010 at 8:34 pm  

    Thanks Don.

    Arif:

    For me, the goals of prison should be: rehabilitation, security (keeping threats away from society) and deterrence. I don’t see the value in punishment for the sake of punishment. I would argue that for some crimes you always need time in punishment because (a) they clearly are a danger and (b) to not do so would encourage others. An important component of rehabilitation is reward- if you change you will be let out earlier, and so on.

    I disagree with indefinite sentences, certainly in prison, though regrettably there may be a few cases where people are so mentally unstable that they have to be sectioned in-definitively in a secure mental institution.

    Why has the number of prisoners increased? Well, historically, most countries didn’t have long term prison sentences. Political opponents might be detained for years, but for most people there was a fine, mutilation, another physical punishment, or death.

    It costs more to incarcerate someone then send them to Eton. I like the idea of expanding the current system they are trying, which pays private companies/charities to rehabilitate in a few cases, with payment based on results. It is not a foolproof system, but since the present reoffending rate is so high, it is worth a go, especially with some of the early successes.

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