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Nicholas Dykes: For a New Political Party – 05



Criminal Law Reform

The Confederation & Reform Party has two main goals in criminal law reform:  1) to shift the emphasis of law enforcement to crime prevention and, 2) when crime occurs, to shift the emphasis from punishment to restitution.

Sending criminals to prison is more or less pointless.  It often has no deterrent effect; it is extremely costly (each prisoner costs taxpayers the same amount as the annual fees of Eton School); and it does nothing at all for the victims of crime.  Parents whose child is murdered by a gang of thugs gain no compensation for their loss when the gang members are imprisoned; householders get none of their stolen property back when the thief gets a few years in jail.

A CORE government would see to it that all the possessions of a murderer were seized to compensate the family of the victim.  Lifers without means would be required to earn money to repay victims’ families.  If no family exists, the amounts raised would be deposited into a fund for the victims of unsolved crimes.

Likewise, convicted thieves would be required to account for everything they had stolen, returning it where possible.  Their possessions would be seized to replace what they could not return, and future earnings would be sequestered to the extent necessary to compensate those robbed.  Thieves would be tagged and closely monitored until such time as they had returned all the stolen goods, or equivalent value, for life if necessary.

The reintroduction of birching for crimes of physical violence such as rape, wounding, unprovoked assault, and injuries inflicted on others during the commission of a crime, would be the subject of a referendum.  The deterrent effect of the penalty is proven:  ‘no man ever came back for a second birching’ it used to be said.

Criminals injured during the commission of crimes would have no claim against the persons who injured them.  Persons defending themselves or their property against attackers or intruders would be exempt from any charges, even if the intrusion results in the death of the intruder.

Crime Prevention

In the field of crime prevention, the first step of the Confederation & Reform Party would be to decriminalise all ‘recreational’ drugs, including so-called Class A ones.  The current prohibition is a total failure – the drugs are readily available everywhere.  There is plainly no point in expending huge amounts of money and manpower on what is effectively the flogging of a dead horse.

All those currently in prison purely on drugs charges would be released.

Just as alcohol prohibition did in the USA, drug prohibition has merely created a new criminal class.  It has also turned many young people into criminals, and led to an enormous increase in crime such as petty theft, muggings and housebreakings.  The illicit drugs are expensive, leading users to engage in crime to fund their habits or pastimes.  Far better control would be achieved by leaving individuals fully responsible for the results of their actions; by better education on the dangers of some drugs; by exclusion of the bad consequences of drug usage from health insurance, and by letting a free market bring prices down.

All other ‘victimless crimes,’ such as prostitution and illicit gambling, would be decriminalised.  Individual behaviour is not the responsibility of the State.

The second major initiative of the Confederation & Reform Party in preventing crime would be to encourage cities, towns and villages to hire private companies to provide security and solve crimes against persons and property.  In other words, the State monopoly on crime prevention and resolution would end.

Private companies, on limited contracts and vying to preserve and enhance their reputations, can be expected to do a far better job than existing police forces which, despite being staffed for the most part by brave, honest and willing men and women, are all too often hampered by rules and regulations and excessive paperwork, and by the natural consequences of being a monopoly.  Hence they frequently fail to prevent crime and some of their clear-up rates are abysmal.

The third major initiative would be to turn large areas of the law over to private arbiters or arbitration companies.  Commercial law, for example, was once managed very successfully by the Law Merchant, that is, by the merchants themselves.  There is no reason why it should not be so again.

All solicitors and judges would be free to offer private arbitration services, and since the purpose of arbitration is to find a solution to which both parties can agree, one can expect that disputes will be resolved, not drag on endlessly as they so often do now.  Plaintiffs would be the persons who considered themselves to have been harmed.

A fourth initiative would be to clean up the statute book.  There are a host of matters which successive governments have labelled ‘crimes’, or ‘criminal offences’, which are in fact nothing of the kind.  A crime is an act which harms persons or their property.  Acts do not become crimes by government say-so, yet throughout our history that is exactly what has happened.  Often minor clerical errors are labelled ‘crimes’ or ‘serious offences’, such as late filing of some licence or other.  This is pure tyranny, the sole purpose being to terrify people into obedience which, at the end of the day, is all the State is really interested in.

A CORE government, motivated solely by the desire to protect persons and property would become the ‘party of repeal’ replacing innumerable ‘crimes’ or ‘serious offences’ with simple, civil penalties such as interest on unpaid fees or charges.

The Confederation & Reform Party would take the State out of the marriage business.  Its record therein is hardly a success story.  Instead, local solicitors would offer marriage contracts with clear provisions for disposition of property, care of children, etc., in case of marriage breakdown, plus insurance against such happening, or against multiple births, etc.  Solicitors would also act as advisors, encouraging young people to avoid matrimony until such time as they could afford to raise children.

People of the same sex who aspired to ‘marry’ would have to find a solicitor willing to write their contract.  The present law would be repealed.

Current laws against the unspeakably vile practice of female genital mutilation would be rigorously enforced.  CORE would also promote the establishment of a new charity-cum-safe shelter organisation to protect young women or young men who were being pressurised into marriage against their will, or to a marital partner they had not chosen themselves, and for women being beaten by their husbands.

The archaic practice of wearing Eighteenth century wigs in court would end, it makes the proceedings appear farcical.  Barristers would lose their quasi-monopoly on court appearances.  Defendants and plaintiffs would be free to appoint the representative of their choice.

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