I thought the BBC was winding me up when I read THIS. So John Denham - who, let us remember is the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee- thinks that unemployed people should be given longer sentences than those in work if they commit a crime.
Is this a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that should have been dealt with earlier or is it a sensible measure to punish those making no discernible contribution to society? John Denham was seen as a Blairite loyalist until his resignation over the Iraq war, but he has not been afraid of criticising the government as chairman of the Home Affairs committee.
Actually, this measure has a distinct “Hand of Reid” feel about it. Denham believes the measure will build public confidence in community sentences. It is not yet clear how the idea would be put into practice. How long would an offender be out of work before being subject to a longer sentence. Also, is John Denham saying that offending while out of work is worse than criminal behaviour and taking home a pay packet? Those that would be exempt under Denham’s idea would be those caring for a family member. Will we see hardened, jobless crims claiming in court that no matter how immoral they may be, they still love and care for their frail old mum? It’s obvious something urgently needs to be done to address our spiralling prison population, but does the answer lie in punishing one set of criminals differently to others? The answer is surely no.