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Justice Served?

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I felt compelled to draw attention to the truly tragic UK case of two year old Liam Fee. This innocent child was killed by his mother and her lesbian lover after subjecting him to abominable and sustained cruelty, neglect and violence that ultimately led to his death and for which the two women were subsequently charged to court and recently found guilty. The two are now due to be sentenced and fortunately for them they don’t live in a country that supports the death penalty. I don’t support the death penalty though on many occasions when faced with the details of some of the more horrific crimes committed by those who could only be described as possessed, have felt sufficient revulsion to wish that anyone who could commit such heinous crimes would be better of swiftly ushered off to hell. At that point I constantly have to remind myself that I don’t support the death penalty under any circumstances but I am not sure that I truly believe this deep down.

I guess this is one of my few politically correct moments where I make myself feel better by voicing what I think is the more noble, more christian and certainly more socially appropriate opinion to hold. The case of two year old Liam Fee is one of the frequent cases of horrific child abuse that we constantly hear of in the media. The details of the cruelty meted against him, all the way to when he eventually died from broken rib injuries inflicted by these grotesque human beings is simply heart breaking. Liam spent his young life exposed to the constant maltreatment and battering by these two women who could not possibly be described as anything but truly evil. I am heartbroken at the circumstances surrounding Liam’s tragic case. I couldn’t imagine even an adult person being subjected to such cruelty and torment, talk less of a fragile two year old! That we live in a world where human-beings can be so capable of the vilest acts of harm and atrocity towards each other; in this case directed towards an innocent and vulnerable child by this evil pair, one of whom happened to be also his mother, is for me, beyond mind-boggling. Deep down I often try to give some benefit of doubt to those who even if found guilty of their crimes, could in some way have been predisposed by some circumstances in their past that ultimately lured them to their downfall, but I am honestly struggling in the instance of these two women. I just don’t get it.

I honestly believe that certain crimes are so unconscionable that as part of the punishment, there should be some degree of forfeiture of human rights by those found guilty. Liam’s case is a prime example. This brings me to the wider issue of the UK’s prison system which at various periods of my work engagement as a consultant, I became quite familiar with. For all its genuine attempts to serve justice on behalf of victims of crime and injustice, the UK justice system can be so woefully ill-equipped to meet those needs. Some might say half justice is better than none. That may well be so but it is still quite painful to observe (particularly in cases of murder, rape and other forms of violent crime) how the system often fails to deliver the kind of justice that could be considered appropriate to the magnitude of the offense as well as the devastation that this usually inflicts on both the victims and their families. In relation to the case of these two women (one being Liam’s mother) who have now been found guilty, my problem with the justice system is despite the truly horrendous nature of the crime for which they have been convicted, these two women will be committed to a prison term which as far as I am concerned will never be long enough. The prison regime they will serve under will also not be harsh or punitive enough in the way I think these two women deserve.

Instead they will be provided superfluous services and facilities which in my opinion shouldn’t be available to those guilty of extremely violent crimes and certainly not until they might have served a good few years of their time with hard labor. For murder and violent offenses I believe hard labour should mean exactly that. Hard labour should also include mandatory physical labour, community service and no perks of any sort. Only after an appreciable period of uncompromising hard labour has been served, should such offenders be transitioned into a slightly more eased regime which might include more spare time and prison perks. A a consultant with extensive years of experience, I have worked on prison transformation programmes and on occasion played a key role in relation to the analysis and redesign of strategic prison processes, so I understand how disjointed certain aspects of the UK prison system remains, despite government attempts and claims to the contrary. in my humble opinion, the UK’s justice and prison system to a some extent encourages a high pr-disposition for re offending. For the more violent offenses, prison sentences and ensuing prison regimes are simply not tough enough.

A prevalent culture of entitlement exists among many prisoners once they settle into prison life and routine. Prison way of life is disproportionately lax in comparison with the gravity of violent crime committed. Basically, when it comes to crimes of murder and serious violence, the prison system is too much of a cushy affair, to the extent that once released, the risk of to re-offending runs even higher because life in prison has not been sufficiently rigoured with the hard labour often necessary to make re offending an unattractive option. As always and in our so-called civilized parts of the world, there remains an entrenched politically correct stance regarding what is considered appropriate punishment for perpetrators of violent crimes. Offenses of serious financial misdemeanor are more likely to attract stiffer sentences than violent crimes. This might be a bit of a slight exaggeration on my part but it often enough seems so. Prisoners get released from prisons which by nature of their rather lax regimes are the equivalent of three star set ups. Often enough, during their prison terms, offenders will not have been sufficiently subjected to the right set of punitive conditions to either deter them from re-offending or to at least reduce the likelihood of it within a two year period. If anything, the tendency is to end up even more hardened because of the kinds of peer-group networks they will have become associated with, as well as a whole host of other factors to be considered.

Coming back to the issue of the two women who will now serve a prison sentence for the murder of two year old Liam, I don’t hold my hopes for any real justice to be served despite this prison sentence. I am certain that from the first day of the two women’s induction into prison life, they’ll rapidly adjust to the pattern of slack and idle convenience which they will become accustomed to and even grow to demand as their human right! The only notable thing about their prison sentence will be the curtailment of freedom and even at that, with the politically correct bunch of politicians we have in this country, it would come as no surprise if we started allowing dangerous criminals to have respite periods from prison as part of wider government cost-cutting objectives. Some group of madcap experts lurking in political corners are bound to further choke us with spurious statistics that ‘prove’ the best way to rehabilitate offenders and to ensure reduction in reoffending rates is to spare such criminals the ‘inhuman’ treatment of imprisonment and all that blah! This may sound like a completely crack pot suggestion, I assure you it is not but I will say this without any inhibitions whatsoever: if we really want to see significant reduction in reoffending rates over the next few years, we either toughen our internal prison regimes (not necessarily the duration of the prison sentence) or suggest that the government strikes a deal with the prison services of a West African nation like my home Nigeria for example.

Strike an arrangement with the Nigerian government and its prison service in which violent offenders will be sent to serve out their jail terms (or even a reasonable part of it) in a Nigerian jail. I must add that the state of Nigerian jails are absolutely deplorable and often not fit even for animal habitation, talk less of human one. These jails would probably scare the life out of the very devil himself, but that in itself is not the point I am making here. Britain could always strike a deal with the Nigerian government to ensure as a starting point, that they brought their jails up to more acceptable, no-frills standards in order to make such arrangements potentially viable. UK violent offenders could be sent to these jails to serve part of their term and to participate in community service projects during their tenure. It could arguably, be more cost effective in the long run for the UK, but beyond that, I am trying to prove the point that for the most violent offenses, prison terms served with hard and uncompromising labour would most definitely result in a marked reduction in re offending rates. No one should get me wrong, everyone deserves a chance at redemption and I am all for rehabilitation of even the worst offenders; but there should be no rehabilitation for such violent offenders without first putting them through hard labour for at least a reasonable proportion of their sentence. A full term in a Nigerian jail is what the murderers of two year old Liam Fee definitely deserve. Now that would be just a bit of real justice! Do feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think. Happy to also hear dissenting views! Till my next piece, its….

From my heart to yours, always,
Kobi Emmanuella-King

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