Thursday, July 02, 2009

Straw: the butch man of Alcatraz

I would have posted this earlier if I hadn't been locked out of my house, apologies for the delay. Jack Straw, what an a-hole. It comes to something when you can be denounced by Ann Widdecombe from the left!

Jack Straw has refused train robber Ronnie Biggs parole guaranteeing that he will die in prison. The ailing 79 year old can barely move and is hooked up to a nasal gastric feed. Biggs has had three strokes, he can't walk or talk and has served ten years of his sentence making him eligible for release, which the parole board has recommended.

Yet Straw is a vindictive man.

He doesn't claim that Biggs is a danger to society but that Biggs has an attitude problem. He must rot in prison because he is "wholly unrepentant". It seems that "Biggs chose not to obey the law and respect the punishments given... the legal system in this country deserves more respect."

It all reminds me of the classic Orwell book 1984. Big Brother does not just want obedience - you have to love him too, even as you're punished. What kind of justice insists that this sick man die in jail when he represents no threat what so ever? What sort of respect does this decision deserve when it flies in the face of the recommendation of the parole board?

Jack Straw was responsible for releasing Pinochet... was he repentant for his crimes? It seems that if you're responsible for hundreds of deaths you can be released without problems - if you've killed no one but have stuck two fingers up to the law - then the justice secretary will glory in your misery.

More than this though, this insistence on repentance for your crimes is wholly reactionary because it is this very policy that ensures that those who are convicted of crimes they have not committed spend more time in jail than those who accept their guilt. Insist the state has made a mistake and you will rot in jail, roll over and take your medicine and you can be out early.

Any policy that ensures that those wrongly convicted serve longer sentences than those who, like Biggs, have been convicted of crimes that they actually did commit should be scrapped. Our Justice Secretary seems to think vengeance and spite have something to do with fair sentancing. I don't agree.

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