Punishing the prisoner

The case of Baby P caused much public outcry and thus to most people reading the news today that Jason Owen will now be released from prison in just two years might seem unjust.

Jason Owen was the lodger in the house where Baby Peter lived with his mother and her boyfriend, who is also Owen’s brother. The court decided that although Owen did nothing to stop the violence against the young baby, he would not necessarily be at risk of doing anything like this again and thus the indeterminate sentence handed down to him was unfair.

But Jason Owen and his brother Steven Barker had a history. They had already tortured their own grandmother, although any proceedings against them were abandoned, principally because the granny died and thus evidence must have been hard to come by.

The Telegraph reported in August that the boys’ own father had denounced them as monsters. So how does our prison system aim to rehabilitate Owen in such a short time? It begs the question if rehabilitation is the aim of the prison system. It certainly does not seem to have punishment in its sights.

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