Sunday, February 20, 2011

Turning Tides?

A JP (Justice of the Peace) in Scotland resigned last week, so that she could take up the fight against knife crime. Seems she's as fed up as the rest of us at the namby-pamby sentences handed down by the courts.

Good on her, I say - not before time. I wonder how long it'll be before an Australian in the same position has the courage to take a similar stand.

Read the story here.


  1. Hi Jack.

    I have a question for you. Here is a quote from that article.

    "There is legislation on the books that says somebody can get up to four years [for carrying a knife], but I would like somebody to show me where that has actually happened. For me, it is a zero tolerance policy with knives that we need to have.

    This is my question. Do you know if the JP is campaigning for tougher sentences for knife crimes, or for laws restricting citizens from owning or carrying knives? It seems a little cloudy, especially where 'for carrying a knife' is in parentheses.

    Since you know me so well, you'll know that I would not support the latter, but would be 100% behind the former.

    Just wondering if you knew.


    Nite nite.

  2. Hi Kazza,

    The parenthesis around 'for carrying knives' is, I think, purely for clarification in Ms Johnstone's quotation. The four year sentencing powers are for the illegal carrying of knives.

    The feeling I get from the article - bearing in mind Ms Johnstone's assertion that the Scots justice system is 'flawed' - is that she wants both; i.e. a toughening of sentences for crimes involving knives, and a more workable system to deter people from carrying knives in the first place. I may be wrong, but that's what I took from the article.

    The first one, just like you, I whole-heartedly agree with. The second one also, but I haven't invested enough time and thought into trying to formulate a workable solution. I'll keep my comments on that topic to myself, for now.

    By the way, by 'tougher sentences' I don't just mean longer time in jail. I mean there needs to be a real deterrent involved in punishments for every crime involving violence, not just knife crime. That could include supervised time in the community carrying out tasks that are no longer funded by central or local government; and it could mean having to earn privileges and rights, as opposed to assuming they still exist after breaking the law. That kind of thing. The most abysmal thing I've heard recently is that the UK government is about to allow convicted criminals to vote. Call me a traditionalist, but as far as I'm concerned if you commit a crime and go to jail, to forfeit your right to say who runs the country.

    And, yup, going back to many of the conversations we've had in the past, I don't think it should be a crime to carry a knife. It's already a crime to use it; but there are many legitimate reasons for someone carrying a knife. The knife is merely a tool - like a screwdriver, a hammer, or a a steel ruler - until someone uses it otherwise. I think the definition of 'an offensive weapon' in Scotland used to go something like: "...any article made, adapted or intended to cause injury..." In my mind, a knife only counts as an offensive weapon if it's used with the intention of causing injury.

    And if society were that straightforward, we wouldn't need lawyers. Or cops. Or medics. Or each other :)

    Thanks for taking the time to pop by Kazza. Means a lot, knowing you're up to your elbows with US senators, representatives and lobbyists.

    Speaking of which....

  3. Hmmmm...

    The voting issue. That's a toughie.

    I definitely do not believe that an inmate, or an ex-convict still on probation should be able to vote.

    However, should there not be some end-date to a punishment? A parent 'grounds' a child and takes away their right to watch TV or play on their computer, or visit friends when they've broken the rules, but once the punishment ends, those rights are restored and the hope is that the child will have learned a lesson and changed their wayward behavior.

    If a criminal has served out his sentence, behaved well while incarcerated, and made it though probation without further incident, does it not seem fair that their rights as citizens be restored? Where is the incentive to rehabilitate if there are no 'prizes' at the end?

    Positive reinforcement can go as far-- if not farther-- than an endless 'sentence' via the removal of basic rights.

    Perhaps the type and severity of the crime could determine restoration of freedoms? Or even the age of the criminal at the time of the offense? Extenuating circumstances? Something I always have in the back of my mind is this: Every once in awhile, we are wrong. We convict an innocent man or woman. It scares me to death to think that that 'conviction' would be life-long.

    Sorry to fill up your commment space, here. :o)
    But these are tough questions, and I doubt there is any one right answer. We all have to muddle along and do the best we can, I suppose.

    Okay...I was writing an incredibly boring post on GAG. Now that I've had a break, I oughta go back and proof-read it, huh? I told seven people that I hoped they got VD, today. That's what happens when I just click 'send'.


    P.S. I am the mother of a 28 year old man, today. :o)


  4. Yeah, the removal of voting rights ends, as it does now and has done for decades, at the end of the sentence. Once you've paid your price, you're back, and we'll do the best we can to 'forgive'. Sorry for not making that crystal clear. I'm not in favour of forever twisting the knife, unless the crime is of such a henious nature that a life sentence is the only option.

    Happy birthday to Guy :) Hope his 'VD' clears up. (:-() Holey dooley.

  5. Phew... glad we're on the same page there. I hate it when we disagree-- especially when I'm right. You so hard to live with, then....


    I gave Guy your HB wishes, and cautioned him against VD. :o) Thanks for that.