Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Land Fit For Criminals - David Fraser

The heart of darkness in the Criminal Justice system, described by a senior probation officer.

Buy it at Amazon for £11.87.

Blair Gibbs review at the Social Affairs Unit blog.

"A Land Fit for Criminals shows that we run great risks if we think, despite all the evidence, that we can have a low prison population, while we still have a high crime rate, and not expect public safety to be jeopardised. Fraser argues that the only imperative in criminal justice policy is public safety, and that only prison can guarantee this. Much evidence suggests that when it is allowed to, prison works, and with expansion and more investment in Britain it can be made to work better. What doesn't work, is a criminal justice system that attempts to replace prison with other forms of community punishment, solely on the back of ideological motives or misplaced sentimentalism."

David Fraser in the Telegraph.

"When I read that four of the six men who raped, tortured and then murdered the schoolgirl Maryann Leneghan were on probation, I felt angry and desperately sad. But I was not in the least surprised: I realised long ago that probation is a gigantic con trick played on the public."

BBC staffer William Crawley gives his copy away. Unread ?

By glorious chance, his copy was given to Raw Carrot, who wrote a lengthy review, illustrated with scanned statistical diagrams from the book.

"Mr Fraser conducts a thorough analysis of statistics, he examines social and cultural changes, while keeping it all focused on the underlying aim: demonstrating the need to seriously rebalance the criminal justice system so as to deter, and not reward, criminals. I would actually say that David Fraser has done for the criminal justice system what James Bartholomew has done for the welfare state."

Short John Cooper review in the Times.

Offenders on probation commit 10,000 crimes a month, according to Home Office figures.

Mr Fraser, who analysed probation reoffending in his book, A Land Fit For Criminals, said the decision to calculate the figures, even though they were only intended for internal circulation, reflected a "sea change" after years in which the service refused to admit the number of people who reoffended under its supervision. "For years they have been in denial," he said. "Finally they are realising that they have got to drag themselves into the real world."

The Policeman's Blog.

"For anyone who wants to understand how we got to this position and what we can do to get out of it, read this book."

The great Welsh blogger and MP David Davies on the campaign to Stop All Further Early Releases, supported by Mr Fraser, the husband of murdered jeweller Marian Bates, and the father of Luke Rees-Pulley. More on the campaign here.

A wonderfully pithy review at Grumpy Old Sod, full of the sort of statements-of-the-bleeding-obvious which causes the Guardianista to roll his/her eyes at the simplistic nostrums of the hanging and flogging brigade. Because, of course, it's much, much more complicated than that. Unless you're dealing with racists or foxhunters.

"If a burglar is in prison for five years, that's five years when he isn't burgling our houses. If that's not a result, what is ?"

"One law for them, one law for us" - the Sunday Times.

"A wildly accusatory document" says Peter J M Wayne in the Speccie, calling Mr Fraser a 'dinosaur on the rampage'. Alas I can never remember my Speccie password so rarely read it nowadays, but if Peter J M Wayne is this Guardian writer, smackhead, scumbag and 'a thief out of necessity', I'm glad I don't buy the Speccie any more. A Speccie reader wasn't too happy with the review either.

"‘These are children ...for goodness sake,’ wrote Wayne in his review of David Fraser’s A Land Fit for Criminals (Books, 17 June). So that makes their vile insults, burglary and aggression to the community acceptable ? When a 14-year-old boy next throws a brick at my windows, and smashes glass in the nearby park so that my grandchildren cut their feet, or when next I am confronted, taunted, spat at or abused, I’ll just remember their age, shall I ? Is that supposed to console me ?"

"For goodness sake" ? What's Peter Wayne to do with goodness ? But I digress. More tomorrow.

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