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My Resignation Letter

I thought I’d include this early on in the BLOG to set the scene for what is to follow:

Alan, in the four years I’ve sat on the … bench my disappointment at almost all that I’ve seen has remained very high.
Many of the rules upon which we have been given to follow are often idiotic, and no-one seems to notice nor care.
The quality of justice we provide in Bedford is very poor indeed. No-one cares.
The efficiency with which we run the courts is astonishingly poor. No-one seems motivated to fix them.
These “difficult circumstances” I hear so much about cannot excuse simple, persistent inefficiency.
I have seen management charts which show me that the “manager” who prepared them is totally adrift with no clue what he’s doing.
I have met with a probation manager and that meeting tells me she is simply not nor never will be – management material.
In general, the probation service are horribly below standard, and strangely pro-offender – we accept their recommendations, we nod stuff through. It’s easier, and hey – we don’t want to make a fuss, do we?
Every single sitting I document several miserable instances of institutional idiocy. There seems to be no will to do better or even to acknowledge how bad things are. We just push on regardless.
Serious issues remain unaddressed for YEARS by “the correct channels” as you’ve termed them in the past,
whilst my attempts to address them promptly and directly have been met by hostility. This leaves me with no alternative but to sit tight and try to function as best I can in what I see as an embarrassing shambles. Tackling things on a point-by-point basis in court sessions is largely futile and unpopular.
I have sat like a thorn in the side of the bench for too long, and your “little note”, and the back-biting it evidences, is the final straw. Finally, even I can’t stand it any longer. I don’t have to do this, so – effective immediately, I will no longer do it.
If the public knew how we do what we do, they would be extremely angry, and rightly so. Perhaps I’ll write a book.
Good luck with it. I am very glad to have finally admitted defeat.

Just so you Know

This BLOG pushes for robust justice and argues against what I see as overly-lenient sentencing (as well as arguing against institutional idiocy, complacent incompetence and more), but I want to say some things to address those who feel that criminals are just folks who, in a tough spot, made bad decisions.

I AGREE WITH YOU 100%. If we want a happy just society, then the law courts are entirely the wrong place to start. By now, they’re usually young adults, and into crime. The pattern for their lives has been set. Our choices are all poor choices. The RIGHT place to start is by looking at how we grow our citizens. That means parenting, and schooling in the formative years.

However, we are where we are. When crimes have been committed, and victims have been damaged, and society has paid out a fortune, we need to act in ways which will make things better for society as a whole, with as little down-side as possible.

In my book, that means these things:

1. Sentences have two important roles. They should punish the criminal, and they should deter would-be and repeat offenders.
When a sentence is paltry, it serves neither purpose, whilst simultaneously costing society dearly to running a criminal justice system, which hands out wrist slaps.

2. Restorative justice should be at the heart of our criminal justice system. Where possible, the criminals should be held personally and financially responsible for restoring what they have destroyed.

3. Rehabilitation should be a goal, but not to the extent that it conflicts with the previous two items. And by the way, the way we currently do rehabilitation is MASSIVELY ineffective whilst also being MASSIVELY expensive AND IT DOES DAMAGE THE PREVIOUS TWO. A triple whammy.

So, please don’t comment on how “there but for the grace of God go I”. You may be right, though actually, you’re wrong in my case. I come from a very poor background and a troubled family. I have not committed crime, but I accept that others will, and those others aren’t necessarily “wicked” – a concept with very limited usefulness.

I am saying, again, that we are where we are, and dealing with those who commit crimes which damage society should be strongly discouraged before and after the fact, and heavily involved in putting right their wrongs.

November 2018
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