EACH Tuesday evening a discussion begins in our house shortly before 9pm.
It centres on the question: what do you have to do to get sent to prison?
A TV series called Cops with Cameras ends with a narrator outlining the sentences meted out to offenders arrested by Thames Valley officers.
He usually reveals that a man who rampaged with a machete escaped with a police caution; no evidence was offered in the case of teenagers caught with a knife in their car; and a man in possession of £500 and a bag of cocaine was given a suspended sentence. Or something along those lines, if you’ll pardon the pun.
However, if you are a troubled teen threatening to throw yourself off North Bridge in Halifax, it’s a different story.
Last week Calderdale magistrates jailed her for six weeks for causing a public nuisance. Yet a 20-year-old Hebden Bridge man who admitted five counts of indecent exposure to girls as young as 11 was given a suspended six-month prison sentence at Bradford Crown Court.
The Boothtown teenager’s solicitor said she was “a young lady with considerable problems that I don’t think have been dealt with adequately”.
I know nothing of this girl but is prison really the way to solve her obvious emotional turmoil? Who knows what she has gone through to consider throwing herself off a town centre bridge?
And more importantly, who cares? Our jails are full, it’s claimed, yet someone crying for help is given prison, not support.