By MP John Hayes
Though the sentiment had existed for centuries prior to 1885, the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta ‘The Mikado’ popularised a phrase often repeated since: “Let the punishment fit the crime”.
With its almost biblical allusion, the concept of retributive justice, rightly, strikes a chord with us all.
Prison serves three main purposes; to punish the guilty, to protect the innocent, and to rehabilitate those who offend, thus benefitting both the guilty and innocent.
Previously in this column I have written about the importance of rehabilitating prisoners, and specifically of the need to reduce reoffending through better education and training opportunities.
A spell in prison cannot simply be a brief respite from a life of crime; that is why cutting recidivism matters so much. But it is also morally right that those found guilty of breaking the law are punished for doing so.
Prison is about depriving a person of their freedom as a punishment for what they have done. Prisoners should not be allowed access to luxuries that those on the outside have to work long hours to pay for.
That’s why I’m strongly supportive of the Government’s recent changes that mean that prisoners must earn their privileges through rehabilitation rather than being rewarded with perks for simply not causing trouble.
Prisoners must now wear uniforms instead of automatically having the right to wear their own clothes, Sky TV and 18 certificate DVDS are banned, and there are now much tighter restrictions on letters and parcels prisoners receive from outside jail. If a prisoner commits vandalism, destroying his own cell for example – he’ll pay the cost, and not the taxpayer.
Retributive justice is also about fair sentences. The public must have confidence that life means life.
It’s time to drown out the bourgeois liberal establishment, still resistant to rigorous retribution, with the common sense voices of the people that live on the front line of crime.
Like the Prime Minister, I support the enforcement of whole life sentences for murderers and other serious offenders. The Government is right to ensure that those who commit dreadful crimes are sent to prison and never let out.
As for disorder, my response is clear; those who spoil the lives of others should pay the price. So let’s lock up the troublemakers and if they’re foreign send them back to where they came from.
Benjamin Disraeli said that “justice is truth in action”. We must have a criminal justice system that recognises the fundamental truth that crime is wrong and that criminals must pay the price.