Saturday, April 2, 2011
Laurence Winters hasn’t a future in society and he knows it, so what is the benefit to him of a community payback order, absolutely nothing!
One of the main issues of the Holyrood election is crime.
Laurence Winters was the first criminal in Scotland to be given a Community Payback Order.
And promptly broke it.
He has a criminal record that goes back 24 years and has 160 recorded offences.
What was not explained is that the 39 year old has no future!
What is the rationale behind Community Payback Orders?
I would say that it is to keep people out of jail, rehabilitate them and pay their debt to society.
Laurence Winters hasn’t a future in society and he knows it, so what is the benefit to him of a community payback order?
I don’t like the name Community Payback Order; it is in my mind a political title tagged on a judicial sentence.
So, what should it be called?
Rehabilitation Offender Orders!
As I have already said, the idea of the orders is to keep people out of jail, rehabilitate them and pay their debt to society.
But that isn’t enough, we have to try and reinsert them back into society.
Everyone recognises the need to break the cycle of crime for offenders; the cost of jailing people has focussed minds.
After breaking the order Laurence Winters was jailed for 40 days, however, he walked free from court because he had spent 21 on remand while denying the breach.
Sheriff Michael Fletcher said:
"An attempt was made to avoid a custodial sentence by imposing a Community Payback Order. Had I known all of the information, the court would not have imposed that order. Had I known he would have all these difficulties in keeping it, and doing it, I would never have imposed it and would have sentenced him in some other way."
Winters blamed his absence on a heart attack, a road accident and an epileptic fit.
Sheriff Fletcher said:
"The series of events you have described - is that just how you normally live? You expect to be in hospital every two or three days. You were hit by a van and assaulted - is that normal? Or was it just bad luck that fortnight?"
I have met plenty of people like Laurence Winters, I listened to one homeless guy as he described being attacked in the street; the evidence was on his face, ripped apart and stitched up.
He explained someone had hit him in the face with a bottle and someone else tried to cut his throat for nothing.
Some people at the bottom end of society aren’t as lucky as Sheriff Michael Fletcher.
In the next session of Holyrood, the SNP Government should revisit Community Payback Orders.
The new idea should be keep people out of jail, rehabilitate them, pay their debt and reinsert them back into society.
Offenders should be placed in Charities and in local Councils to serve their sentences.
The chain gang mentality doesn’t work.
If anyone is serious about breaking the cycle of offending, then they have to understand that changing the mindset is more important that the physical labour extracted from offenders.
If we want people to be good, we have to offer them the opportunities to do good!
Society failed to turn round Laurence Winters because society didn’t offer him a future.
24 years and 160 recorded offences.
Again, it is time to adopt George Laird radical thinking.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University