Row grows over life sentences

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The Independent Online
The Home Office last night rebutted claims by a senior judge that the Home Secretary's plans for life sentences on violent offenders and rapists would lead to more murders.

Lord Justice Rose said Michael Howard's tougher sentencing policy would mean rapists and other violent criminals might decide it was not worth leaving their victims alive. The criticism adds to warnings by the former Master of the Rolls, Lord Donaldson, who said Mr Howard's proposals to extend minimum sentencing, to be unveiled in a White Paper later this year, would bring miscarriages of justice. Penal-reform campaigners have also added their voice to the row.

The Home Office said Mr Howard's plans would have the opposite effect: "Mandatory life sentences are just for murder. However, anyone who commits rape can potentially be given a life sentence.

"The Home Secretary's intention in proposing mandatory sentences is the protection of the public.

"The details will be outlined in a White Paper in the spring and people will be able to make representations then."