Following on from my previous blog regarding prisoners having access to the internet, the justice spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Christine Jardine, has also outlined their motion to stop women from going to prison except in the gravest of cases. In a world where women struggle to be treated equally, whether via respect in the workplace, male dominated industries such as security, construction and military or the highly publicised wage gap, this is an alarming statement.
It is not clear as to why Ms Jardine feels that women should be treated differently to men who have committed a similar crime and demonstrates further naivety in how criminals would take advantage of such a law. Women have the same motivating factors to commit crime as men and are equally dishonest with little regard for their victims. This would also likely create increased instances of women being coerced, pressured or forced into criminal acts from criminal partners as the consequences of being caught would be less serious.
If you or a member of your family was a victim of a crime and due to the adversary being female, they did not receive a custodial sentence, how would this make you feel? Whilst incarceration is obviously a means to rehabilitation and helping prisoners back onto the right track, it is also about maintaining acceptable behavioural standards within our communities and ultimately protecting the public. If a female criminal is permitted to continue on in her life without restriction, where a male would be incarcerated for the same offence, then how is this protecting the public and reinforcing standards. If it is necessary to send a male to prison for a certain type of offence, then the risks to the community and business from a female will be the same. Whilst rehabilitation is a very complicated concept and there is absolutely no one size fits all solution, this undermines the equality that women seek and it is not something that can be turned on and off for convenience. If convicted of an offence by our criminal courts, it should be left up to the professional judges assess the merits and impacts of each type of sentence on the individual and apply appropriately.