In the UK and in most western nations we have a problem with re-offending rates of prisoners upon release.  Now lots of things have been tried and none of them have really worked, we still have a problem with 90% of those sent to prison in 2011 having had a previous conviction.  Watching Newsnight on Tuesday got me thinking about this.  Now I have previously blogged on prisons and how they should be used as a way of helping to treat offenders who are addicted to drugs, alcohol and other things.  Now I am sure that if you introduced that it would have some impact on re-offending rates. 

Now another thing came to me today while I was on my way home, I have helped a fair few prisoners through work, and I have noticed that a lot of them have problems with basic literacy and writing.  Now this has to play a large part in their choice they make in their life after prison.  As how can we expect someone who can’t read and right properly to hold down a job? 

So I have come up with a bit of a carrot and a stick idea to help reduce re-offending, firstly we give these people the skills that can help them to reform and become a helpful member of society and if that fails we have the stick.  Which would reduce re-offending rather significantly. 

Now the idea follows a similar path as my drug treatment plan, which was we deal with the addiction then the punishment starts and we release the prisoner addiction free back in to society.  Well I thought we could maybe do something similar with an education element.  Every prisoner would be tested to see what their reading, writing and literacy skills are and they are put on a compulsory scheme which will bring them up to a minimum A-level/NVQ standard.  This would allow them to get a job upon release that paid a reasonable amount to live off. 

Now we could make it a parole condition that until a person has achieved such a qualification then they would not be eligible for release.   Now some people would think this is barbaric keeping people in prison unless they achieve a set qualification.  But If we release them with the tools to be able to go out and work surely that has to be better than keeping them in a cell for a set period of time and then just kicking them out with no skills and have them arrested 6 months down the line for breaking the law again. 

Now the second part of my idea the stick part is not a new idea, it’s something that certain parts of the USA already use; which is the three strikes and you get life.  Now I wouldn’t go for just any three criminal acts like three speeding tickets and you get life in prison; as that would be a little harsh.  However I would have it set at three convictions of offences that were either an automatic indictable offence such as Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent or 3 conviction of an either way offence like Burglary or Theft. 

Now I am all for giving people a chance and a second chance, but I think we need to draw the line at some place, and I think 3 chances is a fair shot for breaking the law.  Especially when if you watch a criminal trial for burglary or alike when convicted they will normally ask for other offences to be considered, so it’s not like these people have only broken the law 3 times in most cases.  With a policy like this it would act as a deterrent to people not to commit crime.

However there is one big question as to how we would fund this, as undoubtedly we would be locking people up in prison for longer, and in a fair few cases for life.  It would be unfair to expect the tax payer to increase their contributions to help fund such a scheme.  So I thought we could utilise these large groups of people in a productive way.  Lots of prisons in the USA use prisoners to make things as it reduces the tedium of being locked up.

So I thought we could build factories within prisons that companies could use to manufacture their goods.  They would have to pay the prison service say minimum wage for each of the prisoners that they employed and in turn each of the prisoners would be paid the standard prison rate for a day’s work.   This way we are paying the prisoner for the work they do and funding the upkeep of prisons, so there could be no accusations of generating “slave” labour.

I think a combined approach of treating addiction and educating criminals should give them the skills and opportunities to lead a crime free life; with the threat there that if they don’t change their ways then we will come down very hard on them and remove them from society. 

I have come across this story on a few different places on internet message boards.  Now every time I have come across it the LGBT community in large numbers have defended her actions blindly, in an attempt to justify her actions. This bemuses me beyond belief.

Now I have looked at several different sources on this incident and there is no great deal of difference in who said what and what happened.  The basic facts are three undesirable people made some offensive comments; her and a group of her friends went to confront them.  She was attacked by one of the women in the undesirable group which lead to her retaliating and stabbing fatally a man; who had at most only said some offensive comments. 

Now the LGBT community seem to think that her actions were that of self-defence, which on consideration of the facts this is a stupid accretion.  As the confrontation which lead on to her assault and the fatal stabbing was something that she created, she had the option to ignore the possible situation and move on.  At this point it’s gone from there being any possible innocent people involved to people participating in civil disorder, which ultimately lead to murder. 

I even took time to look at the laws for murder and self-defence in the state of Minnesota, which for murder are actually straight forwards.  Which if you impose the facts in to them there is no grounds for a claim of self-defence, yet these people seem to think that she should somehow be allowed to claim self-defence. 

Now one of the most alarming comments I read on this whole issue was, that the murder victim as he had a past of violent criminal convictions and he was supposedly a member of a Neo-Nazi group and was inherently homophobic and transphobic that it was fine for her to kill him.  The justification for this was, that well he may have at some point in the future tried to kill her.  Now if this was any form of justification for murder then it would give just about everyone the possibility to go and murder who they wanted to, because that person at some point may want to kill them. 

Now what worries me is the strange disregard for the rule of law, and how that if someone from a class of people you belong to does something wrong that they defend them to the hilt, regardless of what they have done.  It is as if these people become somehow blinded by the fact that the person involved is like them in some way. 

People need to wake up to reality, and it’s not just the LGBT community it’s all minority groups.  You may want to think that your little clique is perfect and no one does anything wrong because they have something in common with you.  Well that’s a load of poppy cock every minority group has rotten eggs in it, its part of life.  To blindly defend someone’s actions because of who they are is just wrong and will lead the world to a very bad place.

As where would it stop? If they are happy to defend someone who commits murder or child abuse or grievous bodily harm because well they are kind of like us.  Do we carry on do we start trying to justify that locking up Dennis Nilsen was wrong because he was a gay man or we shouldn’t lock up Muslim paedophiles because the Muslim community says a proper Muslim can’t be a paedophile. 

Civil society says that if someone breaks the law we should punish that person, and that it doesn’t matter if that person is LGBT, religious, from another country, male or female or even from another planet.  If someone breaks the law they should be put on trial and if convicted punished accordingly.  We should not start to let people off because of what could have happened if they didn’t do something, or because we think that maybe it’s a bit harsh that they are being put on trial.

This all comes down to the fact that as a society we seem to have lost the grasp that people are accountable for their own actions.  If that person does something they shouldn’t do they have to face the consequences, there should be no exceptions; and the rest of us should not try and justify the un-justifiable.  As it makes you look foolish and almost as bad a person as the perpetrator.

There has been a bit of fuss about the web monitoring that the government announced yesterday. When you think about it, it's a lot of fuss over nothing really.  Yes some people will be upset because they will see it as an invasion of their privacy and the state shouldn’t be snooping on them and seeing what they are looking at in the privacy of their own home. 

They will argue that Article 8 gives them a right to a private life and this should be respected and not interfered with like this.  However Article 8 is not an absolute right and can be limited hence why it has a qualifying statement. 

But this argument takes away from what the problem really is.  When the Internet first started to become accessed by the average person in the street it was relatively harmless and full of useless facts and personal websites of people who liked Star Trek.  But as it took off and more and more people started to use it, the nature of it changed.  As well as having the law abiding people who wanted to find out what the day’s weather was going to be or to read the news, the internet attracted nefarious people too. 

So along with the good things came a dark side to the internet.  In the late 1980’s there wasn’t even any laws governing the use of the internet in the UK, and judges were faced with having to bend existing laws to fit.  We then got the Computer Misuse Act 1990.  However since then we haven’t really seen any progress in regulation or legislation of the internet.

However although we have these offences, if not outdated ones, the internet is still basically a lawless place where criminals can operate with relative impunity.  If the streets were in such a state there would be a public outcry. 

Which leaves us with two possible options, we can police the internet or we can police those people using the internet.  The first of those tasks would be near on impossible, it would require huge scale international co-operation from every government in the world and all the ISP’s to be able to effectively police the internet.  Then you would be faced with the dilemma of what if X is illegal here but not illegal over there.  So the mammoth task of policing the internet is something that we can’t do.

So we are left with policing the citizens’ of the UK and what they access, which is a more than doable task; even if it will upset a few people along the way.  But any task that the state carries out will upset some people, as you can’t please all the people all of the time.

Now there are lots of reasons why this is actually a good thing and not a bad thing like lots would have you believe.  Firstly this should be seen as giving the police extra resources to do their job in an effective way, as there are lots of people out there who are committing crimes on the internet and going totally undetected.  How many paedophiles are out their sharing images of child abuse that the police don’t know about and currently can’t find out about without a warrant?  There are shops out there that have gone in to administration due to people file sharing copyrighted material, which is money and jobs being lost from the economy.  Then not to mention people posting material that is technically a hate crime.  If I stood in the high street giving out copied music or spouting hate crime I would get arrested, yet as it stands I can sit in my living room on my computer and do the same thing with impunity.  Why is that the case? They are both the same things yet one we ignore at the moment and when there is the likelihood we will do something about it people don’t want it to happen.

In a modern society we should have a police force that are able to deal with the changing types of crime, to say that because it may infringe on my civil liberties is a very selfish way to look at it.  Those pictures of child abuse infringed on the civil liberties of the child who was abused, are your civil liberties really more important than bringing someone to justice for passing around abhorrent materials?

Then you have people saying well if we let the police do this then corrupt police officers could pass on the information to other people that could lead to blackmail.  Well there is nothing to stop a corrupt police officer doing that now; these changes don’t introduce a new computer system, they just take away the need for a warrant to look at them.  So if there was a corrupt police officer now they could gain access to this information, and do the same. 

This is not an increase in the “nanny state” it’s an increase in police powers, to bring them in to the modern age.  So what if they can see what I have been looking at online, I have nothing to hide about my browsing history.  Hell the last 10 websites I looked at were;

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • My blog
  • Google Analytics
  • Okcupid
  • Gaydargirls
  • LGBTory
  • Hotmail
  • Lexis Library

Hardly the most interesting of browsing history’s and I bet the vast majority of you don’t have anything out of the ordinary in yours; so there is nothing we should worry about.  If there is a small encroachment on your civil liberties then surely the benefits of the people arrested for committing crimes and making society a safer place outweigh that.