The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Getting Their Hands Dirty

Silvafox wrote this interesting comment on the robbery guideline thread. I think that it deserves greater prominence that it will get in the comments. Trying to do something with a desperately damaged child is unglamorous and often frustrating, and I have a great deal of respect for the professionals who work in this field. It is easy to write young offenders off as incurable thugs (as some may well be). It is easy to sneer at the efforts of 'do-gooders' (by the way, what an indictment of our society, for that to be an insult!). Actually doing something about it rather than criticising from the sidelines is special, and practitioners have my respect

I just wish those people above who are so quick to dismiss young offenders would spend a week in the life of an ISSP advocate (ie the adult mentor who has 3 months to get into the kids head and start to turn him around. It is immensely (difficult) yet rewarding work.

ISSP is a last chance : it falls on those 15-16-17 year olds in the worst circumstances, maybe with drug addictions, maybe brutalised by the environment of supposed care homes.

I represent kids a lot. If the offence is so grave that there is no option then they go to prison. Public policy (correctly) demands it and magistrates impose it.

But if you read the reports and materials that I (and the magistrates) get about these kids and you still felt that they were unworthy of an opportunity to turn themselves around then it would reflect extremely badly on you.

Yes, they do sport on the program. The children that this program deals with are marginalised. Most will have drug or drink problems, virtually all will be out of mainstream school and struggling along in the farcical 'alternative' education system that we have for the bad kids (ie twice a week at the day centre). A majority are not only unqualified but illiterate.

They gravitate towards their own kind, and get to the point where they cannot socialise outside of that circle. They have time on their hands but no resources, hence crime.

In short they become part of a sub-intellectual ghetto of 15 year olds, failed by both their family and society.

And you don't think they are worth a bit of professionals' time and effort to encourage them to interact into society? If you read the reports you would think we owed it to them.

Or perhaps its better (as happened to those I represented a year before ISSPs were introduced) that 3 of them kill themselves with heroin overdoses following release from prison.

3 less on benefit : I think some of you would be chuffed.

To be fair to its writer, that last comment, sounding rather bitter, is a response to some of the earlier comments on the thread.