Monday, 4 July 2011

Criminals and their 'rights'

I must admit I’d been struggling to decide upon a topic today and then just now it hit me – an issue I feel very strongly about and I suspect is going to generate some strong opinion.

Criminals and their rights.

What specifically sparked this off for me lately was potential changes to the rules under which innocent people can face prosecution for defending themselves if they are faced with an intruder in their home.

It may well come across as very narrow minded and an old fashioned approach to things, but in all honesty in my opinion once somebody commits a crime – of a serious nature – then they give their rights up on carrying out that act.

This first came to light when I was a lot younger, about 11 in fact, and there was the case of poor little James Bulger who was brutally murdered by two 10 year old boys when he was just 2 years of age. Despite taking place now 18 years ago, just looking online at the story for research purposes it makes me go cold, feel close to tears and have a sinking sick feeling in my stomach.

I remember the anger felt at the time by many at how Jon Venables and Robert Thompson went to court and were given anonymity because of their age and to protect them. Now, I know how young they were, but why on earth are they allowed any sorts of rights and privileges when they took all of that away from their victim? I just cannot justify that.

Similarly when people are woken up in the middle of the night by a masked man or threatening intruders, what are they expected to do? Politely ask them to leave and put the expensive valuables and sentimental pieces back on the table? Enquire as to what brings them into your home in the middle of the night in the first place? No, they are going to naturally defend themselves and their household and so they should. Yet again, if you break into somebody’s home to get a bit of cash to support your burglary business, drug habit or kleptomania problem, then you gave up your rights at the door when you decided to frighten the life out of an innocent party.

The absolute joke of the proposals to perhaps shorten the sentence for rapists if they admit to the crime was another recent development that I just could not get my head around. Why on earth would you give someone who would commit such a disgusting act any sort of leeway or benefits??

I know some people are going to argue these individuals at the end of the day are still human and need to have some sort of rights. However, take a look at the victims involved – a child is murdered; they will never get their life back or have a chance to become a great or better person, they’ll never grow up and make their parents proud. Or a young woman who gets raped – for months or years she will have difficulties building relationships and issues with trust, her sex life will be affected for goodness knows how long to come, she’ll have to face a trial where her personal life gets ripped apart and potentially face accusations of promiscuity and unsuitable suggestive clothing. Or if she’s too frightened to prosecute she’ll face a lifetime of feelings of shame and fear brought upon by her attacker.

Or say an old woman wakes in the night faced with a masked burglar because she hears a sound which wakes her and she interrupts him, whether or not he pushes her , shouts at her or just runs, can you imagine how frightened that poor lady will be, scared to sleep at night and frightened in her own home?

These people are taking away all the rights of their victims, so why do we feel we need to take care of them and make sure their rights are looked after? It just doesn’t add up.

I understand that some people make mistakes and their life has led them to take the path they’ve chosen, BUT why is it then that other individuals who go through a tough life are able to be good people and don’t feel the need to follow a life of crime and ruin other people’s lives?

What is the logic and what sort of message are we giving to the younger generation when a young child commits a murder and then is given anonymity and protection and years of perks and training for free? Making prisons more like a community centre/hostel rather than somewhere to consider your behaviour and try and become a better person to me is not the way to go. Hence why so many people go on to reoffend – you’re sorted, learn some tips on how to improve your breaking-in skills, score your drugs and make contacts within your world who can ‘help you out’ or know people on the outside who will. Okay, okay so perhaps I’m being a bit extreme here but you get my point.

So do criminals give up their rights when they commit the crime? Go ask the victims and see what answer they give...

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