Sentencing

The maximum #sentence for #internet trolls is being quadrupled, from 6 months to 2 years.  Chris #Grayling is reported as saying ‘We must send out a clear message – if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years’.  So the only ‘message’ is that the ‘troll’ should think about what will happen to himself or herself if caught.  The right message would be what is the effect on the victim, whether the troll is caught or not – and the most direct way of getting that message across would be in a restorative meeting, with the victim if he or she wants it, or someone on their behalf, combined with a public education campaign.

Faulkner and Burnett, in Where next for criminal justice? (2012, pp. 98-99) point to the difficulties that can arise ‘if the aim is … “to send a message”, for example by increasing a penalty or creating a new criminal offence’.  As they point out, there is no evidence that legislation has been successful in achieving thefe effects.  They might have added that since the success of ‘sending a message’ is not measurable, it does not fit with the idea of ‘payment by results’.  Unless the desired ‘results’ are headlines in tabloid newspapers.