Reducing Sentence Tariff for Early “Guilty” Plea

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Discussion, Opinions, Political, Uncategorized
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There has been considerable discord over the imprudent comments made recently by the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, with reference to the heinous crime of rape. And it is due to this emotive subject that in my opinion, everybody from those in opposition to the press have jumped on the band wagon and called for his resignation. Not that for one minute I condone his ill-considered comments. For rape is rape.

My concerns are that Clarke is proposing that prison sentencing be reduced for those who plead “guilty”, early in the proceedings. “BBC FiveLive: Ken Clarke rape sentencing comment (18May11)“. In this link, Clarke suggests sentences be reduced for those pleading “guilty” to spare the victim the trauma of the judicial process. He [Clarke] also suggests that reduced sentences for defendants offering a “guilty” plea early in the process is common practice for other crimes, so why not rape. I have had the (dis) honour of undertaking Jury Service twice in four years, and have drawn the following from this experience.

One of the most annoying, frustrating, and probably financially impacting event occurring in the courts, is the defendant who pleads “guilty” at the eleventh hour. Usually for one of two reasons, either the offer of a lighter tariff, or the defendant  realises that there is no possible way a Jury could find them “not guilty”. It is the offer of a lighter tariff, as a bargaining tool, which I consider a disgrace to the legal system. If a defendant pleads “guilty” to the charge against them, at any stage during the process, then they should receive no less than the tariff identified fit for the crime. That is, if the minimum tariff for manslaughter is fifteen years then that is the tariff set against an early plea of “guilty”. If on the other hand the defendant maintains a “not guilty” plea, the tariff increased to reflect the additional trauma to the victims caused through the necessity of trial.

There needs more public involvement in debate over such subjects as crime and punishment; and a Government less imposing of their interpretations.

  1. Fiona Q says:

    Always has been and always will be an emotive subject. But I fear the laws in this country are too complicated and the sentences too lenient. Sad state of affairs

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