Criminology, probation and stuff

Some musings on criminology with a focus on probation

Offending ex-army personnel

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The study by Napo into the increasing number of ex-army personnel in prison is interesting- not only because of the issues that it raises in terms of the difficulties that people face when re-entering society after a period of time spent in the army as raised in this article in the Guardian (Revealed: the hidden army in UK prisons) but also in terms of ideas of citizenship, authorised and unauthorised state and personal violence and human rights.

Locke’s theory of a state of nature argues that, in return for citizens agreeing to obey the law, the state will protect them from harm. One part of this protection comes in the form of an army. Not only is it difficult for someone to go ‘from trying to kill people on a Monday to ignoring some drunken muppets in Coventry on Friday night’ (Wright) on a personal level but it is difficult to do this on a more philosophical level too. On Monday, you are being paid by the State to protect other citizens (and are lauded for doing so by the media and members of the public) and by Friday, you are being accused of threatening the social order by committing, what is basically, the same behaviour as on Monday. Being in the army appears to involve simultaneously, or at least in quick succession, being on both sides of the law. This leads to questions about how the State is supposed to protect you. If you have been damaged by working towards the state’s aim of protecting its citizens then surely you deserve help? But if you threaten the state by committing violence against someone else, then do you deserve to be punished the same as anyone else?

The MoJ has said that its ‘first priority is the protection of the public’ but that offenders’ rights are respected irrespective of background. However, if people are in need of help because they were protecting the public in the first place, do they deserve more help than others?

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Written by criminologyandstuff

September 25, 2009 at 12:28 pm

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