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Short jail terms fail to prevent reoffending, says former England and Wales magistrate

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Short jail terms

Short jail terms fail to prevent reoffending, says former England and Wales magistrate

Criminals in England and Wales are being jailed for short terms that fail to prevent reoffending because of a lack of awareness and availability of community-based sentencing, a leading former magistrate has said.

Rather than jailing or fining someone, magistrates have the alternative of imposing a Community Sentence Treatment Requirement (CSTR), which can be for mental health problems, or alcohol or drug dependency.

However, short custodial terms are being handed out “by default”, according to John Bache, former national chair of the Magistrates Association. They fail to achieve the objectives of sentencing and impact offender’s families, he added, even driving children to follow in their footsteps in some cases.

“I don’t see that short jail terms actually achieve a great deal,” he said. “The bulk of these people, who commit multiple crimes, they’ve got an underlying problem, which is mental health or alcohol or drugs or a combination of any two or three of those.

“The treatment for that is not to shove them in prison, because if they haven’t got a drug problem when they go into prison they’re likely to have one when they come out. The solution is to attempt to treat alcoholism or their drug requirements.”

Describing the justice system as “grossly underfunded” – the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) lost more than a quarter of its budget in a decade – Bache said the government needed to commit cash to ensure universal availability of CSTRs.

“The problem is those courses [CSTRs] aren’t always available and it is a huge postcode lottery. So you might be in one area of London, where the course is readily available but you go to a shire county and they just aren’t available.”

He added: “The crazy thing is that it would actually be cheaper to treat these people in the community rather than send them to custody.

“It is cheaper financially in the short term and it also be cheaper in the long term. You’re not going to get 100% success but hopefully it’s going to stop some of them coming back into the justice system into the revolving door of prisons.”

Two-thirds of people sentenced to a prison term of six months or less go on to commit a further crime within a year of being released. The reoffending rate is much lower for people handed non-custodial sentences.

Bache said the problem was not just funding but that CSTRs are not always incorporated into probation service pre-sentence reports – sometimes because they are not available – and some magistrates are unaware or unconvinced of their benefits.

He called for more emphasis during magistrates’ training on prevention of reoffending.

While the Criminal Justice Act 2003 sets out five purposes of sentencing, Bache said too often the focus was on just one – punishment of offenders – reflecting “the age-old English obsession with punishment”.

Short jail terms offer no opportunity for rehabilitation, he said, while for an offender’s children “their whole life is turned upside down through no fault of their own”. “Should we be surprised if their behaviour becomes unacceptable and if they themselves begin to demonstrate criminal tendencies?”

A MoJ spokesperson said: “While sentencing is a matter for independent judges, we are committed to tackling the drivers of crime and making community sentences tougher and more effective.

“We recently invested an extra £80m to expand community treatment services in England – the biggest funding increase in 15 years – helping thousands more offenders turn their backs on crime and better protecting the public.”

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Reps To Investigate Subsidy Regime From 2017 To 2021

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Reps To Investigate Subsidy Regime From 2017 To 2021

The House of Representatives on Wednesday resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the petroleum products subsidy regime from 2017 to 2021.

The resolution followed a motion by Honourable Sergius Ogun who stated that component costs in the petroleum products subsidy value chain claimed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is highly over-bloated while the transfer pump price per litre, used by the NNPC in relation to Petroleum Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC), is underquoted.

The lawmaker described this as fraudulent while also expressing worry that the subsidy regime has been used by the NNPC and other critical stakeholders to subvert the nation’s crude oil revenue to the tune of over $10 billion.

The committee is to report back to the House within eight weeks for further legislative action.

Wednesday’s move by the lawmaker came on the same day that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mele Kyari ruled out the possibility of a subsidy for diesel.

He made the comments while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Downstream, alongside the CEO of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, among others.

“In our country today, we do not produce AGO and we regret that our refineries are not working,” he said. “Are we doing anything about it? Yes. I have heard the honourable members lamenting; yes, they (the refineries) are not working.

“This is the truth. I don’t want to bore you with why they are not working, but they are not working; I admit they are not working but we regret it. I will invite this committee at your convenience to join us to see how much work we have done to get them back to work, but they will not come back tomorrow.

“They will not! You cannot start it tomorrow. We regret this; we regret this situation, and we are doing everything possible. As a matter of fact, we have decided to do a quick fix for the Warri refinery. The reason is very simple: we don’t even want to go the long route of doing comprehensive turnaround maintenance because we are concerned.”

 

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2023: Presidency Must Return To Southern Nigeria, Fayose Insists

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2023: Presidency Must Return To Southern Nigeria, Fayose Insists

A former governor of Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose has insisted that the southern part of Nigeria must produce the country’s president in 2023.

Fayose, a two-time governor under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said this in a series of tweets on his official handle on Wednesday, pinning his argument on the party’s constitution.

“The PDP Constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the Party shall pursue its aims & objectives by “adhering to the policy of the rotation & zoning of Party & Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice, and fairness’,” Fayose maintained.

“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it MUST be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or NOTHING. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon.”

Fayose, who contested the PDP presidential primary, lost out to former Vice President Atiku Abukar in the exercise held earlier this month.

He has been one of the strong advocates for a power shift to southern Nigeria despite the party Atiku from the northern region, as the party’s flagbearer.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who also lost in the exercise, had campaigned, among others, based on a power shift to the south.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), however, is fielding a southerner – Bola Tinubu – as its presidential candidate to honour the power-sharing deal called zoning between the north and south.

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Senate confirms Buhari’s ministerial nominees

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Senate confirms Buhari’s ministerial nominees

The senate has confirmed seven persons nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari for ministerial positions.

The upper legislative chamber confirmed the nominees on Wednesday after they were screened by the “committee of the whole” chaired by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

The ministers-designate will replace those who resigned to pursue political bids.

Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Godswill Akpabio and Emeka Nwajiuba are some of the ministers who resigned to pursue presidential bids.

The ministers confirmed on Wednesday are Henry Ikoh (Abia), Umana Okon Umana (Akwa Ibom), Ekuma Joseph (Ebonyi), Goodluck Nana Obia (Imo), Umar Ibrahim Yakub (Kano), Ademola Adewole Adegorioye (Ondo), and Odo Udi (Rivers).

During screening, Ikoh said as a way of tackling employment in the country, “technical” graduates can be job creators.

“On the unemployment situation, we need more technical graduates to do most of the things we are doing right now. If you are a technical graduate, you can employ yourself and employ others,” he said.

On his part, Umana said the country could boost its foreign exchange earnings with its free trade zones.

“On the issue of how to boost foreign exchange, I want to say that even the free zones platform is a veritable platform for this,” he said.

“The free zone is a platform that can drive production because when you produce for export, you earn foreign exchange.”

Nakama said the federal government must be ready to make some compromise to end the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“On tackling the issue of ASUU, my answer is that there will be leave of compromise. Government and ASUU will have to come to a compromise and through this, we will able to solve these incessant strikes once and for all,” he said.

The remaining four nominees were asked to “take a bow and go” on the grounds of their experience.

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