Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Riots - one rule for all?

Today I'm reading that the sentences being handed out for people involved in last week's riots are excessive.

This is not surprising. As anyone who can stand back from the situation and look at things as objectively as one can when only a week has passed, it's clear to see that many people in the riots were victims of circumstance. They got excited, as did the adrenalin, testosterone and other chemicals within them, to such an extent that they carried out actions that, in less agitated circumstances, they would not have done. As such, it would be reasonable to judge that these people would, in normal circumstances, not have committed these offences.

So it's only fair and just that one should judge them fairly. That one should make allowance for the exceptional events that surrounded the crimes that are being tried and that, inevitably, people should be judged less harshly if they've only carried out minor crimes.

Of course this is not happening. For example, today, a child was given a prison sentence for "looting" a quid's worth of chewing gum, and an engineering student was given a 6 month prison sentence for taking bottled water from Lidl, worth £3.50. Two kids, sat at home in their bedrooms, have been given prison sentences of up to 4 years, for writing on Facebook. They have been imprisoned for writing something.

In contrast, we have this man. He is a member of a gang who "were wreaking havoc on Oxford". One of his organised gang threw a plant pot through a restaurant window and the police were called

Some tried to make a getaway but were arrested and thrown in police cells overnight.

Did they get the 4 year prison sentence being given to a 20 year old who wrote some words on their computer? Did they get the "Referral Orders" being applied today to children who have been otherwise blameless and were swept up in a chemical hormone storm beyond their control, and which will remain on these childrens' records for the rest of their lives, preventing them from achieving job opportunities and university places to such a degree that their lives will be devastated?

No. They got to run the shop.

This is what they looked like. Some have fattened out a bit since then.

Related stories: "Two years for nicking nothing", 18 year old gets 2 years for entering Sainsburys.
Edinburgh Fringe show has their Facebook page shut down. Because their show is called..? Riot.

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