Maximum sentences-are they being used?

Parliament lays down in legislation the maximum sentence that a person could receive if convicted of a particular offence.

Parliament lays down in legislation the maximum sentence that a person could receive if convicted of a particular offence.  This seems to raise the natural presumption that such maximum sentences are reserved for the most serious offenders in our midst.  Not so according to figures recently released to Parliament by the Ministry of Justice.  The figures refer to sentences handed out in the year 2008.

Apparently, during that year, 79,058 criminals were jailed in England and Wales for indictable or 'serious' offences – yet only 621 of them were handed the maximum term.

The figures make for interesting reading showing that only two out of 5,000 offenders convicted of robbery, received a maximum sentence; four out of 6,000 in the case of fraud; 39 out of 3,000 sex offenders received the full wraith of the law and were given a maximum sentence.

The figures have prompted a strong reaction from victim support groups and is sure to reopen debates about where the politicians stand over sentencing and law and order.

The Ministry of Justice seem to want to distance themselves from responsibility and has been reported as saying “Sentencing in individual court cases must always be a matter for the independent judiciary as only they have the full facts of each case.

“The Ministry of Justice is currently conducting a full assessment of sentencing and rehabilitation to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting re-offending."  In other words blame the judiciary!


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