This morning the BBC News website front page had two leading stories that provide a telling contrast. The first refers to the introduction of school lessons to tackle domestic violence:
Every school pupil in England is to be taught that domestic violence is unacceptable, as part of a new government strategy.The second story tells us that a former royal aide, Jane Andrews, who had absconded from an open prison in Kent is back in police custody. At the very bottom the story notes:
Andrews beat 39-year-old Mr Cressman with a cricket bat and stabbed him with a kitchen knife at their Fulham home on 17 September 2000.To summarise: a woman who brutally murdered her boyfriend (without even the suggestion that self-defence was a factor) was being held in an open prison eight and a half years into a 12 year sentence (which had been reduced from an initial 15 year sentence, after she had been "jailed for life"). This in a country where a majority support the death penalty, and presumably a big chunk of the people who have qualms about the death penalty would support the (admittedly innovative) idea that when someone commits murder they should be jailed for life, that is to say, kept in prison until they die.
An Old Bailey jury decided by a majority of 11 to one that she killed the wealthy businessman in a jealous rage after he refused to marry her.
I'm not really sure how effective and appropriate it is to "teach" common decency (for example, that domestic violence is bad) in schools. Be that as it may, how absurd and perverse is it that the same State which is trying to tackle the problem of domestic violence through some cockamamie school scheme, at the same time makes it clear to all and sundry that at the end of the day murdering your boyfriend in a fit of rage is not such a terrible thing - in fact we'll send you to live in an Elizabethan brick house dating from 1570 (i.e. East Sutton Park Prison, which was, oddly enough, criticised by the Chief Inspector of Prisons in 2003 for having a "disrespectful culture") and from which it is fairly easy to escape.
As I said, have we gone mad?!