Compassion is not a weakness

Hastings Observer letters
Hastings Observer letters

From: John Dawes, St Helens Road, Hastings

In reading your correspondent’s opinions ‘too many short prison sentences,’ (Observer, August 11) I can only conclude his utterings reflect the minority views of the ‘lock em up flog em and hang em brigade’.

Suggesting there are no alternatives not only defies logic but repudiates logistical sense given the current population of our prison system.

Having no compassion for the circumstances of those who fall foul of our justice system, seemingly he also has little empathy for those public servants who diligently administer our penal institutions.

The progressive cuts to staffing levels have reached by any estimation perilous levels, where disproportionate containment of the violent, mentally ill and vulnerable, only heightens the threat of aggression, making the working environment more dangerously intolerable.

Does your correspondent really think increasing the prison population will do anything other than add to the catastrophic situation that already exists?

Incarceration is no more a magic bullet to cure adverse human behaviour than the measures he decries.

Professing that it does merely shows ignorance of the issues. For some a lengthy prison sentence may justify society’s revulsion and enhance public protection.

To simply dismiss however non-custodial sentences as irrelevant, is to undermine the conscientious work by the courts who must impartially consider all the circumstances when administering justice.

Their task carried out on our behalf is difficult and the criticism your correspondent advocates does nothing to assist victims of crime or society in general.

Showing compassion to those who do us wrong is not a weakness, and other alternatives to what he suggests, have proved in practice to be equally effective.