From our experience there are four stages to a criminals thinking when it comes to premeditation. They are often under the influence of substances, they have a poor education and limited experience of life in general. They have little or no empathy and rationalize everything down to the short term. So already we are struggling to ‘reason’ them out of an intended crime. The below four beliefs or hopes they have are the icing on the cake.
I Won’t Get Caught
I Won’t Even Get To Court
I Won’t Get Convicted
I Can Get a Short Sentence
The first thought we cannot do a lot about as a society. You can have more cops, CCTV, electronic monitoring etc. The methods and their effectiveness are debated. I would welcome any actual efforts to catch criminals of course. It is difficult though, especially in a fast moving society with so many people. In the UK, in the year to 2021, only 7% of criminal cases resulted in a person being charged. Even if we radically improved cop numbers etc what percentage of criminals could we realistically catch and charge? 40%? 60%? A low life thrives on the chance of not getting caught at all.
Second is the idea that ‘I Won’t Even Get To Court.’ It is a real factor in the head of many criminals before they commit an offence. Prosecutors in the UK ( I hear the same elsewhere) test out how likely a case is to get a conviction based on certain criteria. Some cases are then dropped. There are often good reasons for this, however, it does mean that not all cases even get to court and the villains know it.
The third thought they have is about ‘getting off’ at court. They count on a story, however dumb, to baffle a court. Another aspect is they rely on a sad tale to turn the heads of a sympathetic jury. In some cases they can turn the mood towards acquittal just by standing there. I recall the survey of a jury following the innocent verdict in a rape case. A female jurist said the defendant could not have been guilty, he was too good looking. Why would he rape when he could get any girl he wanted?
Currently the conviction rate in the UK is about 80% at Crown Court ( jury) and a little bit more at Magistrates Court ( our lower judge only courts).
One very real example of why offenders factor in this before committing crime comes from our very own Hilary Clinton. There is a recording of her describing how she got a man off a charge of sexual assault. She and much of the media claim that she was not pleased by this and was a little disgusted by the system. I heard the tape. She didn’t sound very heart broken to me. A 41 year old man was acquitted of raping a 12 year old girl. Certainly the victim states clearly that she was treated roughly by the system which included the then public defender Rodham (Clinton).
Even if the accused cannot come up with some story to sway a jury many members of the legal profession will supply one. Of course I am not suggesting that Rodham did this. Her integrity is above reproach as the later years showed…allegedly.
What shouldn’t be forgotten is that most criminals are over confident and their belief in ‘beating’ a charge is higher than the reality.
The last possible hope for the offender is a light sentence. On that score, over the years, the excuses for killing, raping and robbing have become a multitude. Bad childhood = time knocked off the total. Bad addiction= mitigation and on it goes.
So would you agree there are four vagaries that could encourage a person to commit crime? After all we are a species driven by hope even if that hope is often misplaced.
What I suggest is that the only deterrent we can control to a point that is almost 100% is the sentencing.
25 year old Ben Oliver has no doubt had a troubled life. The judge weighed up his challenges when deciding on a sentence. He was convicted of his 74 year old grandfather’s brutal murder. There were tales of his grandfather having been abusive on various levels though they had not been proved. Oliver loved his grandmother very much and she was said to have been one of the old man’s victims. A driving factor behind the 20 odd stab wounds Oliver inflicted on the invalid was that he hated the rumour grandad had assaulted little kids. Which is exactly what Ben Oliver had been convicted of. Try and chip the hypocrisy out of that one.
As he stood in the dock and the judge went through her deliberations he was looking at a 24 year sentence. That had been the starting point. By the time the court was done he was to go to prison for 9 years 53 days. He was confirmed to be within the sentencing definition of a dangerous man. He had previously been in prison for rape. On that occasion he got six years, but was out in three. Another charge he faced back then, in 2016, was possession of child pornography. This was a vile interest he later said he still had.
Oliver was sentenced the other day ( July 2022). It was the first televised such event in the UK. The deliberations were like a math quiz. How much is a childhood of abuse worth? Then take that and decide how much previous convictions for violent crime are worth? Now you have a numerical value for people’s misery you can subtract one from the other. Somehow that works in the minds of our judiciary.
Out there will be criminals listening to this murder sentence and so called reasoning. They will hear of a sub decade punishment and have the murder of an immobile old person in mind. How could anyone argue that this sentence could have any deterrent value?
Our point is that they don’t even think there is much chance of them getting caught. I mean they know they could do and a sentence of less than a decade will not focus them at all.
Oliver is only 25 years old. If he is successful, even on a third attempt at parole, he will be just over 40 years old. What should we make of that because there is another, I would say, higher priority of government. That is to protect the public. Why is that not more important than whatever this rapist murderer wants?
They would argue the sentence is a life long one. So he will be out yet monitored and he will have restrictions for the rest of his existence. Other groups would argue he is ill and so work can be done to ensure public safety when he is released at some point.
I don’t believe any of that will ensure safety for us. I also know criminals. Already they have the chance of not being caught, the chance of not going to court and the chance of being found not guilty. All that Oliver’s case does is spawn more killers because the only thing we can make certain, a hard sentence, is a joke these days.
Last, please debate me. I might be wrong so tell me why? Before you do I make this comparison. In the old days if a dangerous wild animal attacked a child we would have killed it. Then as things changed and we became more ‘civilized’ we might try and scare the animal away. However, if frightening it did not work we would at least ensured the animal could never attack a child again. We would not put it away for 10 years and then let it out.