Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Law Is The Law Unless You're Poor.

Julie Baker and Stewart Evans, Directors of the Care Sector Trust, defrauded their company of £54,000 and this week received a 9 months sentence, suspended for 2 years, and must complete 300 hours of community service.

They received £337,000 public funding for supplying courses that would support homeless people and ex-offenders back into work, ordered staff to forge signatures and claimed funding for courses that never occurred.

Karen Clancy worked on and off as a cleaner cash in hand while on benefits. The total of her benefits, including housing and council tax benefit, child benefit and income support over some years came to £37,000. She went to prison for 14 months.
Judge Richard Bray said he could not overlook "such calculated fraud."

"I appreciate your home circumstances but it is no good blaming the judge. You brought this upon your own children."
Actually, it was Judge Richard Bray who deprived children of their only parent, put them into care and made them and their mother homeless.

Feelings of shame, shock, humiliation and loss of status might be common to both Karen Clancy and Julie Baker but I wonder if the intensity of those feelings might be greater for Ms Clancy? As well as being in prison, as well as worrying about her children and what's happening to her furniture, photo albums and cutlery when her house is cleared, when she comes out of prison she will also have to replay £37,000 on a weekly gross income of around £160. Returning to work  after her sentence will be very difficult indeed. What are the chances, do you think, of her defrauding once more? If she does won't this just prove how basically untrustworthy she is, a perpetual offender?

I’m genuinely interested to see how Julie Baker, Stuart Evans and those MP’s who’ve also been imprisoned for fraud get on in future. The DWP book ‘Barriers to employment for offenders and ex-offenders’ referenced above notes that ‘morality’ is one of the major concerns for prospective employers but I’m not sure this is totally accurate.

Jeffrey Archer, a millionaire who was imprisoned for fraud was made a Peer and is doing charity auctions. Jonathon Aitkin, another millionaire who was imprisoned for perjury still owes money to creditors and heads a Government task force on prison reform.

One of the major determinants of prospects after coming out of prison seems to be personal income. And another seems to be personal contacts. All of which reinforces the research that suggests that the poor are perceived to be more guilty than the rich simply by virtue of being poor.

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