CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
In Liverpool, there is a real drama about the
kind of punishment burglars should receive.
Inside Out introduces offenders to victims of
crime to discuss 'soft sentences'.
This controversy over crime punishment was sparked by
Lord Justice Woolf’s guidelines. He suggests that some offenders could
receive a community order rather than a prison sentence.
David Smith, from the Probation Service says, "There
are a number of people who feel anyone who commits a crime should go to
"But it’s been proved over and over again that people
go to prison and the great majority commit crime and go back to prison."
"We need to get to the root of the problem."
flood committed crime to feed a drug habit|
The Drug Treatment and Testing order is a five days a
week community sentence order.
Compulsory counselling, strict drugs tests and creative
drama lesson are all part of the course.
One advocate for such sentences is former career criminal
At 40 years old he has 64 previous convictions.
Frank spent 10 years in prison but only managed to turn
his life around after being placed on the drug and testing order. 2 years
later, he's a changed man.
Frank is also attending college to become a drugs counsellor
and works with local charities.
Frank appreciates how victims of crime feel. He says,
"It’s a natural human instinct to want revenge, want justice."
But he also criticises prison, "I got more education
in the criminal system in jail. I went in a petty criminal and was robbing
banks in five years."
Offenders such as Frank are in favour of these sentences
because they are an alternative to spending time behind bars.
|Joan looks on
as Frank performs in a play with fellow offenders|
But the innocent people who have had their homes and
property violated may not agree.
Inside Out took some Liverpool crime victims to see a
drama production by Frank’s group.
One of them was Joan - a victim of burglary.
Before she saw the drama group, Joan commented, "At the
time you just think ‘if they could be caught and make go to prison."
But Joan's views changed after seeing the Probation Services’
work and chatting to Frank.
She says of prison sentences for burglars and thieves,
"It depends why they did it and what type of person they are."
"I think a lot more needs to be done to try and segregate
these people and give them help."
Joan’s reaction will not be echoed by all crime victims
- particularly those who can’t get the memories of their ordeal our of
But with prisons facing an overcrowding crisis and Lord
Woolf’s ruling standing, community orders could prove to be a viable alternative
to time behind bars.