UK Crime & Punishment: A rigorous overhaul of sentencing is required to better serve society

Posted on | Tuesday, 27 March 2012 | No Comments

Today's news that three men have been found guilty of a gangland shooting that left a 5-year-old child paralysed for life, leaves me wondering what sentence will be handed down to these thugs. In an age where a sentence of 'life' means no such thing, (although since 1983 a judge has been able to impose a Whole Life Tariff for certain categories of murder), is punishment too lenient for the crime?  In most cases convicted murders can be freed to roam our street after serving a 'deterrent' sentence. Take for instance, the three murderers of 16 year old Ben Kinsella in 2008. They will be released in another 16 years to roam our streets free men, free of any further liability for taking this innocent young man's life - legally still a child - while Ben's family have to suffer for the rest of their lives; this can't be right (although the absurd sentencing in this case did result in the minimum tariff for murder committed with a knife subsequently being raised from 15 to 25 years). 

There is a misguided belief in some sections of society that lenient sentencing coupled with criminal rehabilitation will solve the problem. It won't. We need to understand that we are an imperfect species, and as a consequence there will always be people who do not fit into an ideal mold of the perfect citizen. In the case of criminals who have taken a life or permanently disabled a victim, and where a whole life custodial tariff is not applied, we need to apply robust custodial sentencing followed by a rest of life service to the family/community.   

If a criminal has either taken the life of another or inflicted a life time injury, as in the case of this 5-year-old child, they must receive a whole life sentence as punishment to match the crime. The sentence in its entirety need not be custodial. If public safety deems that the convict can be released from gaol, they must continue, for the rest of their life, to serve the victim's family and/or community in whatever way is appropriate. This could be a life-time penal tax on their income which would be used as compensation the the family of their victim.

So, in the case of 5-year-old Thusha Kamaleswaran who will never walk again, the three guilty men must repay society and the child for the rest of their lives in a combination of a custodial sentence and community service. 


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