The British government scored a popular victory against the European Court of Human Rights last month, when the British Court of Appeals ruled “whole-life” prison sentences legal.
The legality of such sentences, intended for the most heinous murders, has been in dispute since July 2013, when the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights decided, in the Vinter case, that “whole-life” sentences without hope or possibility of release, contravene Article 3 of the convention, which prohibits “inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The sentencing of a number of convicted murders has been on hold ever since, pending review by the British Court of Appeal, including those of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebwale, who were found guilty of brutally murdering British soldier Lee Rigby on a South London street in May 2013.
On February 18, 2014, the Court of Appeal rejected the European Court of Human Rights’ decision, arguing that Section 30 of the Crimes (Sentences) Act of 1997 allows a life-sentence prisoner to appeal to the Home Secretary, under exceptional circumstances, for release on compassionate grounds, thus providing the hope or possibility of release required by the Court of Human Rights, and confirming the legality of “whole-life” sentences.
By Kyle Barnhill
Certainly the prison education issue should be framed in the context of a battle for public opinion. Obviously politicians who influence and ultimately control prison-education policy are elected by the people: John Q. Public. So it makes sense that public sentiment regarding this issue must shift before meaningful change and progress may be made. And ironically, this can only occur one way: public education. Not public education in the sense of tax-funded education, but that of educating the public outside the classroom. Public persuasion. In essence, altering at least a small portion of their worldview. This isn’t an easy task. But it is possible.
And the premise of those who advocate educating inmates can be summed up in one metaphorical principle: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Research, studies, and hard numbers corroborate this claim when considering recidivism. There’s no denying it. Education reduces recidivism and is vastly less expensive than incarceration.
Only the public doesn’t know it.