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 Post subject: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:52 pm 
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Given the overwhelming evidence that sentencing has been far more severe than normal following the recent rioting and looting, one might expect the accusations of Eoin McLennan-Murray, president of the Prison Governors Association (PGA), to be taken seriously.

He has charged that the courts have shown "naked popularism" in meting out tough justice after the riots, and is warning that, if people continue to be put behind bars at the current rate, prisons will be full by mid-September.

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:01 pm 
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RAENORTH wrote:
But that is the bureaucrat mentality for you – a complete inability to accept criticism, or to respond to it with anything other than denial. And the terrifying thing is that these are people with real power. We are heading for troubled times.
View full article here

Quick! Put up their salaries, increase their allowances, raise their pensions, give them large bonuses, and approve significant expansions in their staffs. They've earned it. A grateful public expects no less.

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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:23 pm 

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The media are playing games by encouraging a fatuous argument between the prison governors and the magistrates.
The magistrates have very little to do with the draconian sentencing that we have seen, as the sentences in question are almost always being passed by the Crown Courts rather than the magistrates.


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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:37 pm 
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Sceptical Steve wrote:
The media are playing games by encouraging a fatuous argument between the prison governors and the magistrates.
The magistrates have very little to do with the draconian sentencing that we have seen, as the sentences in question are almost always being passed by the Crown Courts rather than the magistrates.


The Magistrates are remanding them and sending them up to CC. They have the discretion to deal with the cases themselves ... their hands are not clean.

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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:49 pm 

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I would also blame solicitors advising stupid kids to plead guilty to incitement to riot when it was more likely an ill advised prank & no-one was incited anyway!

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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:04 pm 

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The magistrates versus the prison officers. Is this two rival gangs slugging it out for territory on the streets of our cities then?


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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:05 pm 

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It is not unknown for magistrates and judges to award exemplary sentences when they feel that local situations demand it. Arguably, the recent outbreak of mass criminality is such a case. My wife was a probation officer in the West of Scotland and knew of several occasions where the Sheriffs (Judges in Scotland) took a severe view of gang-related criminal activity and imposed heavy sentences. Not only that, they called in the press to tell them what they were doing and that they would take an even more severe view of any further such offences. On the whole, it worked.

What is new here is that a turnkey thinks it is somehow part of his remit to go public with his opinion, as if he were a lecturer in some dubious ology or other at a provincial university. That, I think, shows a confusion of roles which is not uncommon in over-mighty bureaucracies.


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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:21 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:58 pm
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Yes, clearly we want sentences to be proportional and yes overfilling prisons with people who've stolen a bottle of water is not a good idea when there are so many local council executives who remain at large, but I find one aspect* of this extremely annoying. The horror that sentences should be driven by "populism" is just the bureaucracy being outraged that the proles (that's you, me and any politicians who don't tow the line) should have any influence, however temporary, on how this country is run. That has to nipped in the bud. Who knows where such a thing might end?

*Alright, not just one element.


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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:55 pm 
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FatCaveman wrote:
Yes, clearly we want sentences to be proportional and yes overfilling prisons with people who've stolen a bottle of water is not a good idea when there are so many local council executives who remain at large, but I find one aspect* of this extremely annoying. The horror that sentences should be driven by "populism" is just the bureaucracy being outraged that the proles (that's you, me and any politicians who don't tow the line) should have any influence, however temporary, on how this country is run. That has to nipped in the bud. Who knows where such a thing might end?

*Alright, not just one element.


I have no problems with sentencing policy reflecting the public mood. However, public sentiment is fickle, and can change rapidly. Say, as is anticipated, it takes two years to bring all the offenders to book .. if in the meantime public sentiment has changed, do the people caught later get different sentences? Do we, therefore, accept that people will get very different sentences for what amount to very similar crimes, carried out in the same period?

Or do we suggest that an essential part of justice is an element of consistency ... is that not what the rule of law is about?

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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:02 pm 

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Quote:
Or do we suggest that an essential part of justice is an element of consistency ... is that not what [our consent to ] the rule of law is about

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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:14 pm 
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SandyRham wrote:
Quote:
Or do we suggest that an essential part of justice is an element of consistency ... is that not what [our consent to ] the rule of law is about



I am not sure "consent" comes into the concept of the rule of law ... that is a defined state. But there again, I suppose we consent to being policed (and governed) on the basis that actions are subject to the rule of law ... in which case that would over-ride temporary popularism, the latter being the rule of the mob.

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 Post subject: Re: The bureaucratic mentality
PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:49 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:58 pm
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RAENORTH wrote:
FatCaveman wrote:
Yes, clearly we want sentences to be proportional and yes overfilling prisons with people who've stolen a bottle of water is not a good idea when there are so many local council executives who remain at large, but I find one aspect* of this extremely annoying. The horror that sentences should be driven by "populism" is just the bureaucracy being outraged that the proles (that's you, me and any politicians who don't tow the line) should have any influence, however temporary, on how this country is run. That has to nipped in the bud. Who knows where such a thing might end?

*Alright, not just one element.


I have no problems with sentencing policy reflecting the public mood. However, public sentiment is fickle, and can change rapidly. Say, as is anticipated, it takes two years to bring all the offenders to book .. if in the meantime public sentiment has changed, do the people caught later get different sentences? Do we, therefore, accept that people will get very different sentences for what amount to very similar crimes, carried out in the same period?

Or do we suggest that an essential part of justice is an element of consistency ... is that not what the rule of law is about?


I'm not going to disagree. Yes, we want sentencing to be consistent and yes public opinion can be fickle, especially when panics are whipped up by politicians and the media but as I recall from various stories about opinion polls over the years, the public is consistently in favor of longer sentences and more custodial sentences. The people who run the system are consistently against this. Who comes out on top? What are the results in terms of crime levels?

If you haven't already, I suggest reading A Land Fit for Criminals by David Fraser. He discusses this issue of how the criminal justice system is run and for whose beneft. I'm going to try re-reading it again as I ended up getting too angry the first time and had to stop as I ended up shouting at the walls.

You are right, of course, that moral panics are probably the worst way to affect change and lead to injustices. My point was that much of the kicking back from the bureaucracy is not about balance and justice - it's about keeping the proles from influencing their little domains.


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