January 15, 2004

Changing the Rules

Maxine Carr has been judged by a jury to have had nothing to do with the murders committed by her ex-boyfriend. She didn't tell the police what she knew as soon she as she could have and as a result was sentenced to 3 1/2 years. She spent enough time in prison on remand that she is eligible for regular release in May. However, under an electronic tagging scheme, she's eligible to be released with a tag now.

There is really no reason not to release her. If she were any other prisoner convicted of violating the same statute, there wouldn't be any hesistancy. Since she was involved in a high-profile emotionally-charged case, the rules are different. Or rather, the rules have been changed.

Because David Blunkett fears the political heat from the prospect of treating prisoners equally, he is altering the rules about electronic tagging. Because Maxine Carr has applied, the whole Home Detention Curfew scheme is being changed. The final decisions to release and tag prisoners will not be made by prison governors. Well, at least not in some cases. "Exceptional cases", will be referred to the chief executive of National Offender Management Service, the newly merged prison and probation service.

Exceptional cases amount to cases over which the press makes a fuss. The press will decide who gets tagged and who doesn't. Where some prisoners are held at Her Majesty's pleasure, others will now be held at Fleet Street's pleasure.

Posted by david at January 15, 2004 12:35 AM | TrackBack