The leniency of British penal policy might be defined as the means by which crime’s financial costs to the middle-class taxpayer are limited while its costs to the quality of life remain where they arise: among the relatively poor. For example, in a town not far from mine in England, a man who lived in ‘social’ housing was sentenced to life imprisonment (meaning, for once, prison was where he would stay for the rest of his life) only after his third killing, having served a grand total of five years for his first two.
It comes as a strange kind of consolation to know that this idiocy, this indifference to brutality that poses as generosity or liberality of mind and spirit, exists on the other side of the Channel.
Theodore Dalrymple is a contributing editor of City Journal and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
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