8:29am Monday 5th September 2011 in Sutton
I am writing in reply to a letter published in last week's Guardian, in which Mr Hughes of Sutton complained about the comments made by Tom Brake MP regarding the disproportionately harsh punishments handed out in some cases in connection with last month's riots.
Mr Hughes accuses Mr Brake of being "soft on crime" simply because he quite rightly thinks that some punishments have been too harsh.
For example, a single mother of two has been given five months in prison for handling a stolen pair of shorts, and a man has been given four years in prison for setting up a Facebook page which jocularly suggested that the rioters should target Downing Street instead of people's businesses - these are not "rioting thugs", but comparatively innocent people who have been caught up in the British government's frenzy to punish everyone it can in an attempt to show a tough stance on the riots.
Mr. Brake is not soft on crime but is merely standing up for justice, for proportionate sentencing, and defending those people who have been caught on the wrong side of this populist backlash against the rioters.
This criticism of Mr Brake helps nobody.
Rather, we should be helping others to rebuild the homes and businesses damaged in the riots, and supporting those who are doing so.
Retribution is an important part of any justice system, and of course people should be punished for breaking the law, but if punishments are not proportionate then neither are they just.
Based on information supplied by Jonathan of Austenasia.