Monday, August 21, 2006

No justice, no peace

Theodore Dalyrmple has a devastating article in the City Journal about the terrible criminal justice system in Britain and how the government is systematically failing in its prime responsibility - to protect its civilians.
For the last 40 years, government policy in Britain, de facto if not always de jure, has been to render the British population virtually defenseless against criminals and criminality. Almost alone of British government policies, this one has been supremely effective: no Briton nowadays goes many hours without wondering how to avoid being victimized by a criminal intent on theft, burglary, or violence.

An unholy alliance between politicians and bureaucrats who want to keep prison costs to a minimum, and liberal intellectuals who pretend to see in crime a natural and understandable response to social injustice, which it would be a further injustice to punish, has engendered a prolonged and so far unfinished experiment in leniency that has debased the quality of life of millions of people, especially the poor. Every day in our newspapers we read of the absurd and dangerous leniency of the criminal-justice system.

....Only five days later, the papers reported that 1,023 prisoners of foreign origin had been released from British prisons between 1999 and 2006 without having been deported. Among them were 5 killers, 7 kidnappers, 9 rapists and 39 other sex offenders, 4 arsonists, 41 burglars, 52 thieves, 93 robbers, and 204 drug offenders. Of the 1,023 prisoners, only 106 had since been traced. The Home Office, responsible for both prisons and immigration, still doesn’t know how many of the killers, arsonists, rapists, and kidnappers are at large; but it admits that most of them will never be found, at least until they are caught after committing another offense. Although these revelations forced the Home Secretary to resign, in fact the foreign criminals had been treated only as British criminals are treated. At least we can truly say that we do not discriminate in our leniency.

Scandal has followed scandal. A short time later, we learned that prisoners had been absconding from one open prison, Leyhill, at a rate of two a week for three years—323 in total since 1999, among them 22 murderers. This outrage came to light only when a senior policeman in the area of Leyhill told a member of Parliament that there had been a crime wave in the vicinity of the prison. The member of Parliament demanded the figures in the House of Commons; otherwise they would have remained secret.
They don't investigate many crimes and then they don't try to prosecute them because the paperwork is too heavy and the courts just let them out. Those who do go to prison serve short sentences that they can get reduced by half. Apparently, all the bureaucrats are conspiring to hide the truth in obfuscating and dishonest statistics.

When you couple these depressing facts, which Dalrymple has gotten from a new British book, A Land Fit for Criminals, together with what Melanie Philips has written in Londonistan, a truly frightening picture of crime in Britain emerges. It's amazing that the Conservative Party isn't making more of this issue since it must really strike home to everyone who has ever been a crime victim.

What is also clear is that Americans must be vigilant to stop any tendency in our cities to travel down this same path that Britain has traveled down. Britain has conducted the experiment. We can see the results. Let's learn from their tragic mistakes.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News where I'm guest-blogging today along with Mary Kathaine Ham, Sister Toldjah, and Danny Carlton of Jack