“Peter died on 3 August 2007 at home in Haringey after months of abuse.
He had more than 50 injuries, despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over eight months.
Tracey Connelly was jailed with her boyfriend Steven Barker and his brother Jason Owen, who were convicted at trial of the same offence.” – BBC Website
I don’t think many will forget the image above or the name “Baby P” as little Peter became known as and the horrific end he came to. Just over six years ago this poor kid passed after enduring a lifetime of abuse, injuries and pain. Yet a parole board sees fit to release his Mother back into society – albeit on licence for the rest of her life. She was jailed in May 2009 and was to serve a minimum of five years with the possibility of never being released as the sentence was for her to be held “indefinitely”. How then less than five years after she allowed this to happen, can she be back on the streets?
I’m not part of the “hang’em, flog ’em” brigade but the legal systems north and south of the border really do puzzle me. Why was this nasty and torturous murder of a child punished by such short sentences? Too often we see early releases and in this case Jason Owen was released early only to be taken back to jail when he broke his licence rules. Is it me – am I missing something here? If you kill a child either outright or systematically through abuse and torture you deserve to rot in jail – all three of them were guilty of that by causing or allowing the death of a seventeen month old boy.
We need a real revamp of the system that has a fixed term in prison set by the court and then only if they have behaved appropriately and the authorities deem them to be suitable for release it’s at that point we can consider it. Serving half or two-thirds of a sentence is nonsense and what message does that send out? If we were stricter and more honest about the lengths of incarceration then yes prison population would increase in the short-term but at the same time perhaps knowing that you cannot get out until a specific date will make them think twice about their actions.
“But we need the option of early release to try and rehabilitate and change the behaviour of prisoners. They need an incentive.” We’d still have that because a decision would be taken around the date of release – and not before. If you haven’t behaved yourself then you don’t get released. Why is that an issue for some people? Whether you are in for three months or life you should only be released if you deserve to be. Too often people see jail as a soft option because they know how to play the system and work out how early they’ll get out. Also we should stop taking any time spent in jail before the sentencing into consideration and chopping that off the time. Some people serve no time even though they are found guilty for smaller crimes.
As I say I’m not asking for the death penalty but people like this and Huntley, Brady, West and other child killers or mass murderers should have their own prisons where they never see the light of day again. I don’t believe in Hell, but it’s at times like this I wish I did. How anyone could kill a child of 17 months and be out of jail for it before that child would have been grown up is beyond me.