Above is Nicolas Poussin’s, “The Rape of the Sabine Women” painted whilst the artist was in Rome between 1637-38. The second of Poussin’s two paintings of this subject, it now hangs in the Louvre in Paris.
The Rape of the Sabine Women is an episode in the legendary history of Rome in which the first generation of Roman men acquired wives for themselves from the neighboring Sabine families. The English word “rape” is a conventional translation of Latin raptio, which in this context means “abduction” rather than its prevalent modern meaning of sexual violation.
This image has been chosen as the Poussin’s masterpiece clearly shows a scene of great confusion and chaos which lends itself remarkably well to the brouhaha following Ken Clarke’s recent comments on the subject of rape.
Readers will know that the British Gazette is no supporter of Mr Clarke’s Europhile views and policies but so far as his present difficulties are concerned is essentially supportive of his position. The fact is simply this: not all rapes are the same. Some are more serious than others – although all can be said to be serious offences. What Mr Clark did was to answer the interviewer as a criminal defence barrister – which is what he once was – and not as a politician. There are many things a “spin doctor” will suggest to a politician that cannot be said – notwithstanding the facts.
What Ken Clarke was hoping to do was to help reduce the prison population by encouraging judges to pass shorter sentences. This of course will generate a storm of protest from the tabloid press and Cameron will probably cave into the tabloid demands and the UK’s prison population will continue to grow.
This will undoubtedly meet with the support of most voters. Their views relating to crime and the sentencing of convicts can be surmised as follows:
- prisoners should serve all their sentence. In other words: 5 years in prison should mean just that: 5 years in prison. If the prisoner behaves badly then more time is added to the sentence.
- prison sentences should be longer to protect the public.
- prisons are “too soft.”
So far as spending taxpayers money is concerned, given the choice of spending money on a new hospital and employing more doctors and nurses or building a new prison and employing more prison officers the public will choose the former. Certainly, were a new prison proposed to be build in their neighbourhood they would oppose it. Were a new hospital proposed to be build in their neighbourhood they would support it.
Thus the British public want their politicians to lock up more criminals for longer periods but not provide any additional resources.
Such a policy is just plain wrong.
There is a country where such a policy is carried out. That country is called the United States of America. In the USA the District Attorney (the equivalent of the CPS) is an official directly elected by the people. US judges are similarly elected, unlike their UK equivalents. This produces a system which delivers what the people want: savage sentences on offenders. The US prison population is vast. Due to the lack of funding, US prisons are very dangerous places. Due to low staffing numbers, aggravated by private companies (who run many US prisons) skimping on provisions to increase their own profits, vulnerable prisoners are frequently attacked most horribly. US Prisons are hell on earth.
Is this Dear Reader what you want for this county?