by danielbarker on 12 August, 2019
Whilst out delivering the FOCUS newsletter this weekend, a resident said to me that I would probably disagree with his views on law and order because they were old-fashioned.
To understand whether he’s right, I need to have another conversation with him, but it made me ponder whether a lot of people out there accept the myth that those who call themselves liberals are soft on crime. Liberals are not soft on crime; they simply look at the evidence and see that some traditional methods haven’t worked in reducing it.
The essence of liberalism is a belief in human rights, and that includes the rights of ordinary people to live their lives without the fear of crime. Where the system doesn’t work, and people continue to suffer the effects of crime, liberals are the first people to stand up and fight for change.
I’ve always believed that sentencing is misleading, and when someone is sent to prison for 10 years, that shouldn’t be code for 5 years if they behave themselves. Where perpetrators don’t get the punishment that’s been handed out, victims of their crimes rightly see that as being unfair. 10 years should mean 10 years.
However, it’s clear that the criminal justice system isn’t working. Those who go to prison are highly likely to re-offend. Prisons are there to protect the public, but sometimes they appear to be colleges of crime, where offenders can go to learn new ways of breaking the law. And prisons are bursting at the seems – locking up more people isn’t the answer to crime, it’s a sign of failure.
The answer is to ensure that prisoners do not have time on their hands to learn from one another, New, younger criminals should be kept away from more experienced ones, and should be re-educated. They need to learn that crime is not the answer; that they need to re-integrate with society and become law-abiding citizens in order to live a decent life. Without such re-education, many of them will fall back into ways of crime upon their release. Statistics show that this is the way forwards.
So we liberals are not soft on crime; we have the answers on how to reduce it, and that’s what our society needs. We will fight for your rights to have a life free from the fear of crime. Don’t believe it when the right-wing press tell you otherwise!
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