Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Justice system needs effective punishments

Much has been made of the idea that making a false statement about a traffic offence is a very serious criminal offence, because it perverts the course of justice (Comment, March 13).

This was not reflected in the sentence awarded to Chris Huhne and his ex-wife, Vicky Pryce: eight months is a short prison sentence.

Ever since Lord Bingham was Lord Chief Justice in the last century, judges and magistrates have been instructed by their superiors and prison reformers not to award short prison sentences, because they are expensive and completely ineffective.

So long as this form of expensive disposal is available to those who sentence, they will use it. The criminal justice system has been too lazy to provide enough other options that are effective, such as well-supervised, rigorous, well-funded service in the community.

MICHAEL HUMPHREYS

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