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Thursday, September 25, 2003
Lib Dems: Community service is worse than prison and burglary is worse than murder or rape

EXCELLENT POST FROM Stephen Pollard on the Liberal Democrats' most loony left, anti-victim wheeze, a policy as absurd as it is dangerous: the virtual emptying of our prisons of burglars, shoplifters and drug offenders and an end to the future imprisonment of such convicts.

According to Simon Hughes, prison is a "cushy option", which should be replaced for "tens of thousands of burglars, shoplifters and petty drug offenders" with working in the community.

"We have to have a change in culture that says prison is the tough option and community service the easy one. In fact, prison is a very easy life in many ways for lots of people. They're watered, kept warm, in all-expenses paid accommodation with three meals a day, a gym, pool table and a telly. It's actually a cushy number."

The Guardian continued thus: "Mr Hughes stressed that the system was not for violent or sex offenders or for residential burglars if they committed their offences while their victims were present."

Let's, for the sake of argument, accept Mr Hughes' proposition (although I'd be willing to wager a small fortune - I don't have a bigger one - that if you asked 100 criminals if they'd rather go in the slammer or work in the community, 100 of them would opt for the latter). If he's right and prison is the "very easy life" (as opposed to community work), his policy is the wrong way round. It shouldn't be "burglars, shoplifters and petty drug offenders" who spend their time cleaning graffiti; it should be the very worst offenders - rapists and murderers. They're the ones, after all, who now have the "very easy life" in prison. They should be the ones to have the really tough punishments.

There you have it: Lib Dem penal policy. Barking. Even on its own terms.

For more details on the extremities of the Liberal social agenda, check out the Liberal Democrat Briefing. Among its highlights is the plan to deny state school children the right to a faith-based education but to allow them access to hard-core pornography.

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