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March 14, 2024

Short Prison Sentences = Low Level Offenders???

There has been a lot in the news in the last couple of days about an announcement by the UK’s Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk. This announcement was to say that to try and tackle overcrowding in prisons, ‘low level’ prisoners could be released up to 2 months early.

People who have been convicted of terrorist offences, violent offences and sex offences, and have been sentenced to over 4 years or more will be exempt/excluded from these plans BUT domestic abuse perpetrators are not exempt!

Seeing that domestic abuse perpetrators commit the latter two of the above, this is really concerning news.

We now that our criminal justice system needs a major overhaul where domestic abuse is concerned. We have known that for a long time. But I am getting so bored of reading about our Government’s seemingly, lack of understanding in relation to domestic abuse and it’s complexities. This decision is ill informed and not thought through at all, with the right people i.e. The Domestic Abuse Commissioner and/or other specialist domestic abuse professionals. And I know, pretty much, that I can say that, because surely if it had of been discussed with specialists in this field of work, it wouldn’t be happening. But it is happening. It has started. I was in a meeting with several Senior Probation Officers this week who were discussing this very subject and the chaos it was causing.

Are the people that are being deemed appropriate for this scheme being risk assessed? If they are, are the people doing the risk assessments trained to identify whether a domestic abuse perpetrator is safe to be released? I doubt it. Is the victim being informed? Do they have a say in the decision?

The Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk, said prisons will have the licence to release ‘low level’ offenders up to 35 days before their sentences are due to finish. What is a ‘low level’ offender? Oh Yes, I know. It is a domestic abuse perpetrator!! Or as far as the Government and the justice system is concerned, it is.

So on top of the already serious concerns about the short sentences that domestic abusers receive, they may end up not getting a sentence at all under these plans. This will leave victims and survivors of domestic abuse even more distrusting of the criminal justice system and more afraid to report an incident in the first place.

The bottom line is, until the Government and the criminal justice system fully understands domestic abuse in it’s entirety, women will continue to be killed at the current rate of 2 a week (in the UK), perhaps rising to more!

‘Low Level Offenders’!!?? Every domestic abuser starts off as a low level offender. They then very quickly become a high level offender. Why? Because the sentences given to these people are not a deterrent to them. And these plans just continue to send out the message that domestic abuse is ok!

Short prison sentences do not always equal ‘low level offenders’!!

See below for a link to an article about this issue.

Fears that plans to release prisoners 60 days early put domestic abuse victims at risk The Independent

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    A survivor of domestic abuse.
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