We have all read about the Crown Court Judge who said that burglars needed “a huge amount of courage” and sending them to prison did little good, when he spared a Defendant from immediate custody. This sparked an investigation from the Office for Judicial Complaints. This remark also prompted Cameron to pipe up and condemn burglary as a “hateful crime”.
Clearly Cameron was attempting to soften the feeling of the public once they had heard this particular comment, and stating that he had been burgled twice. When he speaks, I feel he is trying to get us on side, and using this issue to political gain. I am a cynic, as you can tell.
Maybe this comment has been blown out of proportion. I understand that upon reading or hearing it, Joe Public would feel as if the Judge is sympathising with the Defendant, and most people would not want the Judge to. Most people just want punishment dished out, particularly after their home has been entered, and they feel violated. However, sometimes it is necessary to sympathise with a Defendant. I do not know the details of this case in particular, but I feel that generally it is important that we all realise that a lenient sentence can sometimes (although I admit, not often, in my experience) give the Defendant a chance not to go progress in any further criminal activity, and start doing making positive steps to change the way in which their life may be heading. It may have been a first offence, he may have been desperate and under pressure, he may have mental health problems. There are many mitigating factors that need to be considered when sentencing someone who could be ‘saved’ from ever entering the justice system again.
Dwelling burglary is an extremely common offence, and I wonder whether there really is any courage by an offender. I, and I am sure you, would never dream of entering somebody’s house in order to look through their personal items and choose which items they will take………. but sometimes shouldn’t we just give someone a chance, but clearly all depends on the circumstances.
In my opinion, that’s where restorative justice steps in, particularly in cases of first offences. This is something that I have not had experience of, but can see how this helps those convicted face their problems and look to make positive changes in their lives.
There are so many reasons why this works for some and not for others, and that is what I am interested in. What makes people choose to do things that others would not, and how does the system attempt to distinguish between help and punishment for everyone?