Cases like this and Baby P www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/may/22/baby-p-timeline
genuinely DO illustrate sad failings of the system. The system does have some flaws that could be improved upon, but not without cash, and not just cash, but cash going to the right places. It's no good building the proposed Titan Prisons (p.s. I realise that downgrading from 2,500 to 1,500 is a lot of downgrade, but its still a HUGE prison, larger than any we currently have, and more likely to face the problems they have in the USA, i.e. pretty much everything you DON'T want to be going on in a prison) news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8015999.stm
and expecting that to solve everything. Fact is, our criminal law puts people in prison who don't need to be there, but not through failings of judges, lawyers (though inevitably there will be some human error in any system, even if the system itself were sound), probation officers, social workers or anyone else. It's the fault of the Parliament passing daft legislation, rushed through in order to appease the uncalculably stupid public, who make comments such as:
"Is controlling the breeding habits of the lower orders an answer? And yes, that would mean state control of reproduction. After all we, society, have to deal with the mess afterwards of mopping up after them. So, why not interfere before they actually drop drug and alcohol damaged babies straight into the laps of the expensive social service and criminal justice system???"
It makes me so bloody angry. And of course, the media has its own role to take responsibility for. Never report on how well the prison service is doing, do they. Did you know that escapes from prison were at an all-time low last year? That hundreds of thousands of offenders are successfully rehabilitated every single year? That the average literacy level of an offender is 11 years old? No. And why? Because God forbid the media lets us have some sympathy for these people, most of whom are seriously diasadvantaged individuals.
What we need is money spent on staffing in the prison and probabtion services so that reports given to judges are of a better quality, and greater judicial discretion, aided by better sentencing submissions from barristers and solicitors, in order to put in prison those who need to be there, for the right length of time and with the right rehabilitation programs in place. The mental health service also desperately needs attention so that there are enough places for mentally disturbed offenders can be sent to somewhere they can get the help they need without presenting a danger to themselves and the public, or other inmates.