We need a Government of Justice

Home OfficeThis blog features in the Argus Newspaper today: Now that the General Election has been announced the extent to which Sussex splits into two parts becomes evident. Seven out of 16 constituencies, three in East Sussex, three in Brighton and Hove and one in West Sussex have a fight on their hands to see which party wins, the remaining nine will sleepily approach the contest, like the country as a whole, knowing what the outcome will be. Indeed the certainty with which the nine constituencies will stay blue is far greater than the certainty with which the Tories will keep the keys to No 10. Whatever the result on the 8th June, we can be reassured that it will not lead to state executions taking place. However in the state of Arkansas things are very different. Asa Hutchinson was elected as the new Republican state governor in 2015 replacing Democrat Mike Beebe. During the eight years of Beebe’s term in office he had issued eight death warrants for people held in state prisons but he was relieved when all were stayed by the relevant courts. However Hutchinson seemed determined to ensure that things would be different during his tenure and he carried out the first state execution in 12 years just before midnight on Thursday. There are many questions regarding the prosecution of Ledell Lee and he appears to be the one unfortunate case out of five that Hutchinson was hoping to deal with last week, the others were spared death by various courts. One of the reasons for an unseemly rush to execute people is that the drug used for the lethal injections expires on 30th April and it is believed that no more drugs will be made available after that. Even this drug was obtained under false pretences by the state which raises all sorts of questions. The impact on the families of the victims and jailed people of such haste and chaos is highly disturbing and whatever the intentions of Hutchinson, he did a very bad weeks work last week. Laws are broken every day on both sides of the Atlantic by thousands of people and whilst in the UK we are spared the confusion and chaos that people in Arkansas must accept, the way in which the state operates the British criminal justice system is not without many problems. As we look to a new Government, it is vital that the next administration brings a level of coherence to our system that has been missing for decades. Assuming that Theresa May remains in Number 10 Downing Street on 9th June, we need to find a way of demanding she brings in some changes despite her past. The worry is that as an ex Home Secretary she believes that she knows best and the system is safe in her hands and in the hands of the person in her old office and the Ministry Of Justice. The Courts, the Probation system, the Police and the Prisons are all running in a manner that needs a great deal of support beyond what they currently have. This is not just about money. We have a number of excellent charities working at the edges of the system to improve matters, but the system as a whole is badly broken as the then Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice explained in 2011 at a lecture I attended. The system is more chaotic now than in 2011 due to appalling way this Government handled its probation reforms and their failure to do anything meaningful to improve the Courts or Prison service despite both crying out for improvements. Even the Police are badly depleted compared to where they were in 2010. Thankfully we don’t have the risk of drugs being purloined and rushed into executions just before the ‘best before’ date, but we do have many problems that need addressing and our new Government must act once elected.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Charities, Justice Issues, Parliament and Democracy, Police & Crime Commissioner, Policing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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