Letter: Sentencing paedophiles

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The Independent Online
I ASSUMED that all civilised people subscribed to the view that sentences should be proportionate to the offence of which the accused was convicted, not some notional propensity to commit crime in the future.

No doubt the public need protecting from paedophile offenders but this is already catered for in the Criminal Justice Act 1991 s2 (2) (b). What the Home Secretary seems to be proposing (report, 7 April) is little short of internment without trial. If a judge sets a sentence which he believes reflects the seriousness of the crime and the need to protect the public, on what grounds can that be extended?

No-one doubts that these offences are among the most heinous; few, if any, would argue with the idea of enforced continuing treatment and support for the offenders; even fewer would argue that current sentences could not be more severe.

However, let us not abandon the all-important principles on which sentencing is based. Keeping someone in prison after they have served their proper sentence is simply wrong and we do ourselves no favours if we ignore that for this year's most-hated crime.


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