Thursday, June 17, 2010

The law is an ass

This story on the BBC website about a Scottish women jailed for 5 years for the possession of a prohibited weapon. The weapon a Czech-made pistol dating back to about 1927 was a spoil of war brought home by her grandfather. There was no ammunition and no suspicion that she intended to use the item as anything other than an artefact, so how are the public protected by her 5 year incarceration? Suerly a fine, or a suspended sentance would be far more appropriate. Unfortunately the sentence is a mandated one so the judge had little latitude to allow leniency, to me it make s mockery of the legal system. Surely this sort of law is intended to put away gang members not Grandmothers. She will spend the same amount of time in prison as the guidelines suggest for a rapist.
Stories like this make me very nervous about the politicisation of the judicial service, what we need is balance examining cases in detail not putting in place mandatory sentences which lead to useless prison sentences.