In a blatantly political move, Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling has announced that the automatic early release of prisoners convicted of child rape or certain terrorist offences is to be scrapped.
What Grayling has not said clearly and publicly is that this is simply a first step towards scrapping early release altogether for all offences; something he has always wanted to do for purely political reasons.
He also knows that with the increasing delays in Parole Board hearings (up to 1,800 cases are delayed at any one time), his new policy will effectively end any possibility of early release for those affected; something that will appeal to right wing Tories.
Even those who do get a hearing will stand little chance of release when assailed by often inaccurate and misleading reports from ambitious, career seeking probation officers who live in a risk-averse world of their own creation.
Although it is the child rape and terrorist offences that have grabbed the headlines, Grayling has in fact compiled a list of some 20 different offences which will be affected by the new law that is to be introduced in Parliament in the New Year.
Whilst Grayling strongly signalled this move at last week’s Conservative party conference, the fact that he has made this announcement now demonstrates that he has no stomach for being overshadowed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.
As TheOpinionSite.org has pointed out previously, May and Grayling have been engaged in a bidding war for some time now, each one anxious to appear more right wing than the other. Grayling’s new policy on early release is simply part of that war.
There is no thought given to the families, children or friends of those who would be in prison longer and who are often put there on the basis of highly suspect and unreliable evidence.
May still hopes one day to get rid of David Cameron and to take over the Tory party; something she is unlikely to do as she is a poor public speaker and does not go down well on camera.
Grayling on the other hand knows that he is simply not clever enough to be leader of a fractious Tory party and instead is content to follow May as Home Secretary.
The end result of this nasty little tussle is that the Tory party – already aggressively lurching to the right on immigration, benefit reform and unemployed young people – has manoeuvred itself into a position where it must go for broke; which inevitably means going even further to the right.
Chris Grayling made a huge fist of his job at the Department of Work and Pensions and is anxious to make up political ground by appearing to be the most right-wing (some have even used the word ‘fascist’) Justice Secretary the country has ever seen.
His latest announcement therefore has nothing to do with justice at all but has everything to do with political ambition.
This is demonstrated for example by the fact that out of the 20 possible offences on his list, one of which is Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent, Grayling chose to publicise the ‘child rape’ and various terrorist offences, some of which have in the past led to very doubtful and dubious convictions.
Grayling knows that the key to his political ambition is to use emotive language and knows full well that there is nothing more emotive to the tabloid reading public than child sex offences; not least because the modern public has been taught over a period of many years now that all men are paedophiles and that all children are in danger from anyone who does not wear a skirt.
In her bid for power, Theresa May previously attempted to slap the UK Supreme Court in the face after the court ruled that those on the Sex Offenders Register for life must have some means of appeal.
After the ruling, May announced revisions to the Notification Requirements that affect sex offenders in the UK and made what were largely seen as unnecessary and politically motivated changes; her changes, by arrangement, were duly reported in the tabloid press.
Since then of course, May has announced that she wishes to scrap the Human Rights Act (our only safeguard against excessive state power), deport as many immigrants as possible – legal or otherwise – and find ways of criminalising more ordinary people who might otherwise be tempted to speak out against government policy.
All this in addition to her beloved “snoopers charter” which would enable the police to spy on anybody at any time and in pretty much any way.
Grayling sees himself as falling behind on points and now intends to correct the situation.
With regard to the practical implications of Grayling’s latest announcement on early release, the scrapping of automatic early release will do nothing at all for public protection.
At present, most prisoners are released at the halfway point of their sentence but spend the rest of the sentence on licence in the community under strict monitoring by the probation service and the police.
If Grayling gets his way, prisoners are likely to opt to spend the whole of their sentence in prison and then come out without a licence and with only minimal supervision, if any at all.
Furthermore, as TheOpinionSite.org has made clear in previous articles, policies such as getting rid of automatic early release for
those convicted of serious offences will have the effect of dramatically increasing the long-term prison population.
This of course puts an extra burden on taxpayers who have to fund both the increase in prisoner numbers and the increased length of time spent in custody.
Whilst this new announcement from the Justice Secretary may appeal to the right wing Tory faithful, it will do nothing for the furtherance of Justice, will not improve the protection of the public, will cost a fortune for the taxpayer and in reality will serve nobody – other than Chris Grayling himself.
The previous Labour government introduced early release at halfway and this policy was continued by the coalition until the regrettable removal of Ken Clarke, Grayling’s predecessor.
The early release policy was put in place for a very simple reason – it worked.
Early release aids and improves the rehabilitation of offenders as true rehabilitation takes place in the community, never in custody; prison is a false and artificial world and has nothing to do with reality. Individual cannot truly rehabilitate themselves in custody.
The early release policy also reduced the number of prisoners which gave welcome relief to the taxpayer who ultimately has to pay for everyone who goes through the prison gate, be they prisoners or staff.
So for the sake of his own political ambitions and by seeking to appear even more right wing than his arch rival Theresa May, Grayling is going to cost the taxpayer more, effectively end any real notion of rehabilitation and dishonestly convince the general public that they are safer than they really are.
Chris Grayling would perhaps be better titled the ‘Secretary of State for Imprisonment’.
TheOpinionSite.org makes this point simply because Grayling has obviously lost touch with the most fundamental and most basic principles of British law:
According to the law, prisons are NOT places of punishment but of reform.
The individual’s loss of liberty is the punishment imposed by the state and he goes to prison as punishment, not for punishment.
Once this principle is jettisoned, Britain becomes no better than North Korea, Iran or any other authoritarian state one cares to mention.
Grayling – who has stated publicly that he wants prisons to be places of punishment – knows a great deal about revenge, populism and political ambition…but regrettably knows nothing about justice.
In our view he is a disgrace to his office of Justice Secretary.
He is utterly devoid of human compassion, totally lacks common sense, is overly dangerously ambitious, selfish and interested only in his own political progression; a progression that may be halted much sooner than he thinks when serious and sensible people wake up to what his new policy on early release really means – and what it is going to cost.
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