28 Dec 2011

Should criminals have rights? Yes, actually...

You can bleat all you want about how they lost the "right" to any rights when they did whatever it was they did, but the fact remains that people who have committed crimes are still people. If you believe that rights can be taken away then they aren't rights; they're privileges.

At any rate, whilst I'm no fan of our prison system (it doesn't bloody work for starters), the whole idea is that in and of itself the sentence is sufficient punishment. Leaving aside the issue of the government blocking the European Court of Human Rights' ruling that prisoners should get the vote (which I'll get to in a minute), there remains a couple of worrying attacks in the past few days on the rights of ex-prisoners.

The first came yesterday, where it was revealed that there were plans (to be released next month) under which "convicted criminals are to be banned from claiming compensation for injuries sustained in attacks, in prison or after release" (emphasis mine). This is presumably the government wanting to win Daily Mail merit points for being tough on criminals, but even leaving the issue of it basically meaning prison guards don't have to bother with looking after the inmates (or possibly even it giving them the ability to beat up prisoners themselves (NB: I might be reading too much into this with that one)), the bar on suing after release, after the justice system has ostensibly done punishing you, after you could very well have reformed, then we have a major issue. Every human being should generally have the right not to be assaulted, so to see the government deciding to lift that ban, be it for populism (or wanting to apply the presented will of the people) or other purposes, is rather alarming. I don't really like the whole government thing, but if it absolutely has to be here it should at the very least offer some protection to all its citizens.

Now, I made mention of The Daily Mail earlier, and this is where the second attack on the rights of people who've been convicted/cautioned (it's somewhat fuzzy) comes from. Now, there haven't been any plans leaked for a direct attack in this regard from the government (as far as I know), but the Mail's decided that, as 1/3 of people on out of work benefits has a conviction (or a caution, it's actually really fuzzy on that point), 1/3 people on out of work benefits is a scrounger who's using them to prolong their criminal career. Not because the stigma around a criminal record is such that it's impossible to get a job, and that at least some of them have given up crime. The entire thing seems to be calculated to make people hate benefit claimants, even though, when taken in the decade leading to 2010, the figure for proportion who had received a conviction or a caution in the past decade was 26%. In the. This is a more indirect attack, but it's still an attack. Furthermore, I would be very surprised if something related to this doesn't appear on the aforementioned plan, probably barring anyone who's been convicted of anything from claiming out-of-work benefits, possibly for a long time. This is just drumming up support for such an action.(NB: I could be reading a lot into this which might not be the case)

At any rate, this brings me to the voting thing. The vote is, basically, a placebo button, but the disenfranchisement of prisoners is more broadly symbolic. It's a way of showing that the opinions of prisoners aren't meant to be considered. That criminals are, well, criminals and thus don't deserve consideration. So, all in all, it's a good thing that at least this government isn't prone to arbritary deterrent sentencing and arresting (e.g. of protestors) or anything like that, right?...right?...right?

... Okay, where do you reckon will be easier to mover to: Finland, Norway or Iceland?


  1. obviously you dont watch the news
    have you seen the monsters out there
    every day there is a new story
    its disgusting!
    but you are entitled to an opinion

  2. people who commit crimes are NOT people, they are monsters who prey on the soft hearted humans who bleat for rights. You sign your own death warrant when you wank on about letting violent scum wander the streets.