Reform of the use of Richards guidelines for drug sentencing

Reform of the use of Richards guidelines for drug sentencing

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Thomas Orchard started this petition to The States of Guernsey

We, the undersigned, call for the urgent review of the use of the Richards guidelines in Guernsey in relation to individuals who are being prosecuted for buying and using drugs for personal use, and particularly those vulnerable and suffering with mental health issues.

These rules are disproportionate and out of kilter with other sentencing guidelines. For example, for an individual purchasing 1 gram of cocaine off-island, the starting point for sentencing is 7-9 years imprisonment in Guernsey. To put that into context, a recent sentence in Guernsey for a man charged with Category A paedophillic pornography (which means physically making pornography using underage children) was sentenced for just 10 months.

This is also out of kilter with other European countries, including the UK. As a result, although Guernsey has relatively low criminality compared to other European jurisdictions, the population of the prison (per 100k of population) is disproportionately high and was second only to Hungary in a recent audit of prison populations.

This needs urgent reform. It costs tax-payers £50,000 to keep an individual in Guernsey prison for one year, at a time when Guernsey requires public funds more than ever to fund education and health services. Not only this, but many individuals suffering with mental health issues (and are purchasing drugs for this reason) are being persecuted unfairly. At best, it causes severe issues for individuals on release to society and physically tears families apart, and at worst it can result in prisoner suicide. Prison should be reserved for those who are considered a danger to society, not to themselves. This money should be used to adequately fund mental health services that the island so desperately needs.

We are not calling for drug reform - that is a subject of a much bigger and lengthier debate. We are calling for sentencing to be proportionate and in context with the crime committed.

We call for urgent review of these Richards rules when applied to drug-purchase for personal use, and for this reform to include and integrate mental health services into the judgement and sentencing process. We call for a debate in the States to this effect.

https://www.guernseylegalresources.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?documentid=63352

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