Revulsion and public distaste for certain acts is possibly the greatest deterrent

Plans to guarantee the anonymity of the mother of Baby P have been rightly criticised by some Tory MPs. Let's not forget that Baby P was effectively beaten and tortured to death over a sustained period, in a deliberate and calculated way (after all ,the mother carefully smeared chocolate to disguise his injuries) , and when he was taken to the hospital as an emergency, she demanded the ambulance waited so she could get her cigarettes. She may not be a member of MENSA, but Baby P's mother knew exactly what she was doing.

Others argue that her human rights must be defended, missing completely that Baby P's mother ignored her sons human rights,. But no, they say that she deserves the protection of the government in order to maintain her right to a normal life.

The problem is that what these people are arguing is that people should have the right to commit a crime but then be able to avoid the stigma, the ridicule and the shame that goes with committing certain offences. It was in the past the fear of stigmatisation and shame that kept people from committting crimes, indeed you could argue that this is one of the best ways of keeping people on the straight and narrow.

I know that prison is the punishment for the crime, but moral pressure from society as a whole is also a vital part of what keeps people on the straight and narrow. Knowing that people will know what you did was, and still is a factor in people's minds when they contemplate criminality.

There is, however, a simple solution in the case of the mother of Baby P. I know, I am supposed to be a wishy washy liberal, but the problem in this case would be dealt with if the Lib Dem proposal that life should mean life was adopted.


Paul Pinfield said...

Nich, no no no no no!

Abusing someone's human rights does not remove the abuser's human rights. If that were the case, it would be easy to argue that we should kill killers.

The very fact that someone commits a serious violent crime would tend to point to something being seriously wrong with the offender. The answer is to make them face up to their crime whilst preparing them for eventual release. If upon release, they are hounded because of the horror of their crime, it would seriously undermine the rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

So in the case of Baby P's mother, a new identity is undoubtedly the right way to go. If in any doubt, just search for "Uncovered: The Vile Mother of Baby P" and read some of the comments.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Paul, there is, as I say, a simple solution. In this case life should mean life.

Paul Pinfield said...

I think we should agree to disagree Nich. Many of the "whole life" tariff prisoners have become such in part because of press coverage.

Giving up on a human life like that is a damning reflection on society.

Joe Otten said...

Er, surely the point of anonymity in this case its to protect the victim's siblings. If the mother's identity is revealed, then so is theirs. This has nothing to do with the rights of a suspect or accomplice.

Paul Pinfield said...

@Joe Otten, the mother's name is already widely available on the internet.

lizw said...

Life imprisonment is hardly a solution to the threat of the mother being beaten up (or worse) by vigilantes - prisons aren't exactly safe places for child-murderers. As for naming and shaming, is there any evidence that it works? The penal theory with the greatest evidence that it actually reduces reoffending is rehabilitation, as far as I'm aware.