Vanessa George and the use of indeterminate sentences

Many of you will recall the awful case of Baby Peter and this may help you when discussing the rights and wrongs of indeterminate sentences. Indeterminate sentences are not without controversy and have no fixed end dates.

Baby Peter's mother was given an indefinite sentence with a minimum term of five years after pleading guilty to causing or allowing her son's death.  Her boyfriend was jailed for life with a minimum of 10 years for raping a two-year-old girl.

The boyfriend was also given a 12-year term to run concurrently for his "major role" in Peter's death.

The couple's lodger, Jason Owen, received an indefinite sentence with a minimum term of three years for failing to take steps to save the little boy.  It was this aspect of the sentencing that caused something of a public outcry, many people being of the view that the minimum sentences to be served were too low.

The case of nursery worker Vanessa George and her fellow paedophiles, Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen, may prove to be an excellent example of the use of indeterminate sentences and some of the problems, good and bad, that can be associated with their use.  Vanessa George is to serve a minimum of 7 years before she may be considered for release by the Parole board.  Some parents think the sentence handed out was fair but many think it was not long enough.  There is also the argument that such a horrible act against very young defenceless children should be matched by a much harsher sentence on the principle that the punishment should fit the crime.

Angela Allen was also given an indeterminate sentence and ordered to serve a minimum of five years.

From the individual's point of view, as we can see from other articles, some independent organisations have identified a number of issues that can arise including problems associated with the prisoner not knowing what lies ahead of them.  When will the prisoner be able to say they have done their time and that they have paid the price of their crime?

In the case of Vanessa George, she has been told she will be held in prison until she is no longer considered a danger to the public.  This could be the rest of her life.

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