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B157 - Enforcement of mandatory sentences (second Reading)

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    Enforcement of mandatory sentences, ConservativeEnforcement of mandatory sentences, Conservative.
    The Conservative Party supports Mandatory Sentencing and call for punishment to fit the crime, and essentially for court consistency.

    Background

    Mandatory sentencing acts as a useful deterrent against future crimes with potential criminals having prior certainty of the length of the sentence they will face if they are caught, and thereby acts as a deterrent for illegal activities. It is also the most effective way of preventing repeat offences and would ultimately restore an element of democratic faith in the justice system, and encourage reporting of relatively minor offences.

    1) Prison sentences for rape and other violent crimes are egregiously low.
    2) Twenty five "life sentences" typically means that you're eligible for parole in nineteen and a half years.
    3) In Britain sentences run concurrently rather than consecutively.
    4) To do this is to disregard the rights of the victims of violent crimes.
    5) In countries where mandatory restorative justice has been implemented, levels of car theft and low-level burglary were reduced by up to a third.
    6) There is reason to believe, therefore, that the British legal system needs an overhaul, including the strict enforcement of mandatory sentences unless there are clear grounds for a reduced sentence.

    BE IT ENACTED by The Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

    Strict enforcement of mandatory sentences, unless there are clear grounds for a reduced sentence dependent upon circumstance.

    In cases of altered circumstance, a reduced sentence must be;
    i) Agreed by 3 judges.
    ii) Rank dependent on the specified court.
    iii) Sentencing of an individual will take into account repeat offences that indicate serious criminal risk.
    iii) The likelihood of an individual re-offending will also be taken into consideration.


    When a sentence is decided upon the individual will have to carry out the full sentence, without parole. In exceptional cases the outlined procedure above will occur.

    Rehabilitation
    i) During the period of imprisonment, an inmate will be provided with a one year rehabilitation course with basic education in literacy skills and job training.
    ii) This would help an individual make a successful transition back into society following his or her release.
    iii) This does not have an impact on the length of a sentence.

    1.2 - The reduced sentence agreed by the three judges cannot be less than half the mandatory sentence.

    1.3 - This act will apply to all areas of the United Kingdom and will commence from trials heard on and after the 1st January 2010.
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    Twenty five "life sentences" typically means that you're eligible for parole in nineteen and a half years.
    This would not be typical. In fact most life sentences are not offered a chance of parole for their first 17-25 years in jail. Getting 25 life sentences would get you life without parole.
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    I think at the moment if a defendant pleads guilty then their sentence is automatically halved. Also taken into account is time they have already spent in custody prior to the trial.

    These two should be eradicated as regardless and irrelevant and should be added on to the defendants sentence.

    If a serious crime has been committed and especially if it is serious then they don't deserve this time to be taken off their sentence.
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    (Original post by thunder_chunky)
    I think at the moment if a defendant pleads guilty then their sentence is automatically halved. Also taken into account is time they have already spent in custody prior to the trial.

    These two should be eradicated as regardless and irrelevant and should be added on to the defendants sentence.

    If a serious crime has been committed and especially if it is serious then they don't deserve this time to be taken off their sentence.
    But then no one would bother pleading guilty as even if there was evidence there is always a chance they would be found innocent. It would place a big burden on the justice system. In addition there is perhaps a chance that if there was no incentive to plead guilty then more people would go unpunished. As there would be more people found innocent who under the current system would plead guilty to ensure the lower sentence.
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    (Original post by Owl1867)
    But then no one would bother pleading guilty as even if there was evidence there is always a chance they would be found innocent. It would place a big burden on the justice system. In addition there is perhaps a chance that if there was no incentive to plead guilty then more people would go unpunished. As there would be more people found innocent who under the current system would plead guilty to ensure the lower sentence.
    So they find another incentive to get people to come forward to plead guilty. But the promise of automatically halving their sentence is putting too much on the table.

    And if they are found innocent well then they are found innocent, makes no difference. If they plead innocent and are found guilty the punishment is quite often the full punishment. At least it used to be before the legal system was pumped full of spineless pussies.
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    (Original post by thunder_chunky)
    So they find another incentive to get people to come forward to plead guilty. But the promise of automatically halving their sentence is putting too much on the table.

    And if they are found innocent well then they are found innocent, makes no difference. If they plead innocent and are found guilty the punishment is quite often the full punishment. At least it used to be before the legal system was pumped full of spineless pussies.
    My point about being found innocent was meant to be that people who are guilty and would have pleaded so- to ensure a reduced sentence- would instead go to trial and stand a chance of being found innocent wrongly. It is a limited scenario though so probably isn't very relevant.

    I still disagree with the basic premise of this bill. It seems to me to be punishment for the sake of it rather than punishment because it works.
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    (Original post by Owl1867)
    My point about being found innocent was meant to be that people who are guilty and would have pleaded so- to ensure a reduced sentence- would instead go to trial and stand a chance of being found innocent wrongly. It is a limited scenario though so probably isn't very relevant.

    I still disagree with the basic premise of this bill. It seems to me to be punishment for the sake of it rather than punishment because it works.
    I don't think it would make much difference. Even if they plead innocent if the evidence is there theoretically they will be found guilty.

    People have in the past pleaded guilty and only been found to be innocent some 20 years later or more. There was a case of that in the last year or so. Some guy who was mentally unstable and questioned by the police in what can be described as questionable circumstances admitted to some murders only to be found out to be innocent over 20 years later.

    So it took over 20 years for people to realise he was innocent. I don't get it, How did that help his case since he pleaded guilty?
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    Your rehabilitation scheme is worse than the RL one. Learn2writebills. This is still as petty, pointless, and spiteful as it was in the first place.
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    Perhaps for those that plead not guilty and are then found guilty by trial, a further charge should be added (Something along the lines of perverting the course of justice - although I realise that the current legislation would have to be amended to accomodate such a charge) that carries a consecutive term to be served that is proportional to the length of the sentence they would face for their actual crime. This way, they are punished for causing avoidable further suffering for the victim and their family, and wasting the time of the courts.

    e.g. someone facing a 10 year sentence could plead "guilty" and serve their 10 years, or they could plead "not guilty" and subsequently be found guilty and face their 10 years plus a further 5 years for lying to the court and causing further misery - meaning that the criminal would face a total of 15 years.

    I don't know how workable that would be, but it just seems to me that at the moment, for serious offenders (particularly where the case isn't particularly cast-iron) the chance of getting away with it by pleading not guilty seems like decent odds in comparison to being convicted but for a lesser term. It's like the whole "Well... I came with nothing, so I'll gamble" option on game shows. With a system that actively punishes those that don't own up to their crimes, it turns it around and it's then an easier choice for the criminal to own up, than risk having their term significantly extended.
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    Too little has gone into the rehabilitation side for me to be able to support this. Firstly, rehabilitation should be based on individual need, some might be educational needs, some might be psychological, setting out from the start what everyone's rehabilitation should be seems rather pointless, and setting a time limit seems like if the prisoner doesn't rehabilitate "to plan", that there is a limit on the amount of time that the government are willing to spend helping them. This might leave rehabilitation to seem to be something to be endured, rather than encouraged (a prisoner could go into it, seeing the limit, and think its something they can wait out, rather than seeing rehabilitation, in the first place, as a positive process).

    Could we also have a source for 5) in the background?
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    You've actually significantly cut rehabilitation efforts in this bill, if that's all that's going to happen. How about saying 'if a parole board at any point during the sentence feels the prisoner is no longer a danger to society, he shall be released on parole'?
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    (Original post by Alasdair)
    How about saying 'if a parole board at any point during the sentence feels the prisoner is no longer a danger to society, he shall be released on parole'?
    That'd be the complete antithesis of this Bill, sadly. The Tories believe that 'justice' must be done, which is apparently the same as banging people up for as long as possible.
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    (Original post by The Bill)
    Mandatory sentencing acts as a useful deterrent against future crimes with potential criminals having prior certainty of the length of the sentence they will face if they are caught, and thereby acts as a deterrent for illegal activities. It is also the most effective way of preventing repeat offences...
    These bits I'd both disagree with. I can see the argument for it being a deterrent, but there's evidence to show it doesn't work as such, because people do not recognise what that extra length means when choosing to commit a crime.

    As you showed before, prison is woefully bad at preventing repeat offences, so I'm not sure how you argue it's the most effective way of preventing this.

    (Original post by The Bill)
    [it would] encourage reporting of relatively minor offences.
    How so?

    (Original post by The Bill)
    3) In Britain sentences run concurrently rather than consecutively.
    4) To do this is to disregard the rights of the victims of violent crimes.
    But the bill doesn't propose to change this. How is this relevant for this bill?


    These are the two bits of the actual bill I'd have a problem with:

    (Original post by The Bill)
    Rehabilitation
    i) During the period of imprisonment, an inmate will be provided with a one year rehabilitation course with basic education in literacy skills and job training.
    ii) This would help an individual make a successful transition back into society following his or her release.
    iii) This does not have an impact on the length of a sentence.
    How does this work for sentences less than a year? Moreover, for sentences much longer than a year, I think far more rehabilitation is needed. I don't see why any time in prison should be wasted when it could help rehabilitate someone.

    (Original post by The Bill)
    1.2 - The reduced sentence agreed by the three judges cannot be less than half the mandatory sentence.
    This just binds judges needlessly in cases where there may be extreme mitigating circumstances. Giving a 16 year old half the mandatory rape sentence for having consensual sex with a 15 year old is not justice, in my view. Or giving a mother half the mandatory heroin dealing sentence for buying some for her heroin-addicted (adult) offspring. If three judges agree as spelled out in the act, that should override any minimum sentence.
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    (Original post by Gremlins)
    That'd be the complete antithesis of this Bill, sadly. The Tories believe that 'justice' must be done, which is apparentyl teh samw as banging people up for as long as possible.
    Well yes, because it would involve some actual reasoned thinking on Crime and Punishment, and not Daily Mail mouth-foaming...
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    I'm off to the dentists but this bill looks slightly better. I do have concerns however, I'll write later.
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    How do you all feel about California's "Three Strikes" legislation?
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    Right to be honest your rehabilitation section, though better and without that preamble betraying the writer's true opinion on the subject, is fairly useless.

    Why should it have no effect on the length of a sentence? That's defeating one of the points of rehabilitation- if someone is rehabilitated they no longer need to be kept away from society so can be released.

    A one year course? Why? What about sentences of less than a year? What about the fact that once the year is up prison culture and institutionalisation will simply get rid of all the good work? You shouldn't put a cap on rehabilitation.

    Last thing for now, (ii) is something that should be in the preamble not the bill. Its not legislation its justification
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    http://www.cnn.com/US/Newsbriefs/9510/10-27/index.html (in regards three strikes).

    It depends entirely on how it was implemented. I certainly wouldn't want to see people who commit petty offences to be jailed for "25 years to life", but i do believe that repeat offences, after already going through rehabilitation, should have a longer sentence than the first offence.
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    (Original post by Thunder and Jazz)
    Right to be honest your rehabilitation section, though better and without that preamble betraying the writer's true opinion on the subject, is fairly useless.
    Not really. What would you rather us do? Not include any rehab? A one year course at first, and then, if necessary there will be other courses after various psychological assessments.
    Why should it have no effect on the length of a sentence? That's defeating one of the points of rehabilitation- if someone is rehabilitated they no longer need to be kept away from society so can be released.
    I'm not going to change my stance on this and I don't care that I'm being called one evil woman by the socialists, but you deserve to carry out your full sentence, regardless of whether you've, apparently, "reformed".
    A one year course? Why? What about sentences of less than a year? What about the fact that once the year is up prison culture and institutionalisation will simply get rid of all the good work? You shouldn't put a cap on rehabilitation.
    For a one year course the rehabilitation would match the sentence.
    Last thing for now, (ii) is something that should be in the preamble not the bill. Its not legislation its justification
    Yeah? Well, let's not get unnecessarily pedantic.
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    (Original post by Nativeenglish)
    Not really. What would you rather us do? Not include any rehab? A one year course at first, and then, if necessary there will be other courses after various psychological assessments.
    That needs to be written in the bill then.

    I'm not going to change my stance on this and I don't care that I'm being called one evil woman by the socialists, but you deserve to carry out your full sentence, regardless of whether you've, apparently, "reformed".
    Since I fundamentally disagree I will not support this bill. However I think the argument has been done to death and if you won't change your stance I'm just going to let it go. I on't think you're 'evil' though, for the record.

    For a one year course the rehabilitation would match the sentence.
    Include in the bill etc.

    Yeah? Well, let's not get unnecessarily pedantic.
    Necessarily pedantic, this is the reading stage, you're supposed to iron out the creases.
Updated: July 6, 2009
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