Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is Jail Really The Answer?

According to the BBC.

'A drunk motorist whose five-year-old daughter was seen banging on a car window shouting "stop mummy driving" has been jailed for 80 days. The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was caught driving while four-and-a-half times the legal limit after her child raised the alarm. A member of the public intervened after spotting the distressed girl, opened the rear door of the car and removed her from the vehicle. The car was then stopped by police at Castings Avenue in Falkirk town centre after crashing into a wall. The 35-year-old woman was convicted of two breaches under the Road Safety Act and also breaching the Children and Young Persons Act. Tests showed she had a breath alcohol level of 158 microgrammes, nearly four-and-a-half times the legal limit of 35.'

Not for a second do I doubt the seriousness of the woman's offence but is prison really the best way to deal with such a 'crime'. Clearly she needs help and while I'm not privy to all the details of the case I do think that it highlights much that is wrong with our society. 'The nail 'em and jail 'em' culture is not the way forward for us when dealing with some of what is deemed criminal. We need to find better ways of dealing with such sad and tragic situations.


David Ferguson said...

The judge agreed with you, that indeed she is a troubled lady in need of help, but from the social services report he understood that she was not ready to receive the help available and, as is so often is the case where defendants are not suitable for any of the community sentences or programs available, a custodial sentence is the only option.

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Frightened me, that header.

Calum said...

"Not ready to receive the help available ...... a custodial sentence is the only option."?

Taking her away from her family and into prison isn't the answer but if there is no option but to impose a prison sentence then the judge could have imposed a sentence suspended for 1 or 2 years conditional upon the woman finishing a "treatment" course. God that's some sentence!!!!!

Wolfie said...

Considering how many quite nasty individuals have escaped jail having actually hurt someone this seems over the top, doubly so as she has a child. I'm not impressed with this judgement at all.

Selena Dreamy said...

We need to find better ways of dealing with such sad and tragic situations. I've said so many times before, a martyr to democratic freedom and freedom of expression!

To find "better ways" would be to revolutionize and change an entire culture. I doubt that anybody is ready for that?

Richard Havers said...

David, the woman is not a criminal, she's not well. Surely there must be something better. Having said that Dreamy makes a good point.

What a bloody mess!

Anonymous said...

I do wonder what the best way is to deal with situations like this. Yes the woman has problems and perhaps jail isn't going to do anyone any good etc.

BUT at what point do we stop holding people accountable for their actions? This woman was putting her daughter at great risk, fear and alarm and that does make her a criminal (drink cannot be used as a mitigating factor in Scots Law). What if she had got away and perhaps killed bystander pedestrians?

We are in danger of excusing all sorts of behaviour on the grounds of illness/weakness. I'm sure a certain pop singer's lawyer will be well versed in such.