It’s been something we’ve all been thinking for a while in the UK. Well it’s definitely been bothering me anyway. Just how, oh how, will we ever punish all those immortals, vampires and demi-gods for whom our ‘life sentences’ are just a bit of a joke? Up until now they’ve been killing here, there and everywhere knowing, at best, should they be caught – which to be fair is unlikely due to their god abilities, vampiric nature or general Highlander fighting skills – that they’ll get, at most the equivalent of a weekend of their eternal lives in prison. We are handing them the punishment version of a mini break at a retreat. Just one with slightly less nice grounds and more dubious bathroom facilities than a spa hotel.
So it came as a great relief to me today when the government announced that it may bring in 100 year sentences for murderers and other serious offenders, much like the US already do. It’s a move that makes sense on many levels. For a start, UK prisons are quite seriously overcrowded. Statistics last year said that one in four prisoners is in an overcrowded cell. So obviously, the very best way to deal with such overcrowding is to ensure the prisoners are kept in their cells for ever and ever and ever. While the outside world deals with a housing shortage and people who are too selfish to give up their ‘spare rooms’ for a kidney dialysis machine or y’know, a child, within the prison system we can now make sure those who’ve killed people will have to shack up with each other for the best part of a century. It’ll be just like ‘Friends’, only with less quips and more violations of space. And probably no pet monkeys.
Then of course we should bear in mind that keeping a prisoner locked up in the UK costs the government about £40k per annum. It’d probably be cheaper to spend more time rehabilitating them like they do in Norway, allowing them to re-enter society, pay taxes and generally help towards the running costs of the country. Or, and this is clearly preferred, we can just lock them away for ever and ever, forget they exist and use the debt they rack up to make more cuts to public services causing more people to maybe have to turn to crime to survive, get caught and eventually we have a whole new ecosystem. A ‘Circle Of Life Sentences’ if you like.
Currently only 1% of the UK lives over 90 – discarding all the immortals, demo-gods and vampires obviously – so by aiming the life sentence to that of 100 years is pretty optimistic. It’s almost as ludicrous as raising pension age to 70 when the life expectancy of people in, say, Glasgow, is only 67. If anything the people that do seem to live for nearly a century or more are those with an extremely good quality of life. Multi-millionaires and their ilk, many of whom seem to avoid prison at the best of time.
Ok, ok. I realise I’m looking at this all rather negatively. David Cameron put it today, as he backed this idea for longer sentences that ‘life should mean life’ and really, I guess 100 year sentences would be giving some people life. I suppose poverty, homelessness and quality of life is dropping all over the UK so really, the equivalent of £40k an annum isn’t really all that bad at all. Maybe what we all need to do is kill someone we really don’t like – maybe your local MP or banker – and then we’d get a lifetime of free accommodation and meals paid for by the state. Which would probably raise the quality of life of many in areas that have been quite seriously affected by the cuts. Even if they do have to flat share. Pick your weapon of choice people. It seems the government does care for us after all!
I’m doing my first ever UK tour in 2014, starting end of January. All dates and most ticket links are up at my website: http://www.tiernandouieb.co.uk. Please spread the word and come along as if you’re not there, it’ll be rubbish. It’ll just be me in a room and if I can’t get 3G I’ll be really bored. The very funny Chris Coltrane is supporting me on some dates and the brilliant Keith Farnan is doing a double header with me on others.