When I first spotted this article in the Guardian online, I was convinced that it had come from some mad person. Then I read the article and discovered that John Denham really believes in differential sentencing on the basis of employment.
The idea of sentencing is to punish, and I'm perfectly content with the idea that the guilty should be punished in a manner appropriate to the level and severity of the crime. If that means prison, so be it. However, if you are going to punish the unemployed because they 'have time on their hands', what else might you do?
The converse argument, that those in employment or with carer responsibilities should be treated more leniently, is equally nonsensical. They're guilty! What was the old saying, if you can't do the time, don't do the crime? It is increasingly typical of this appallingly authoritarian administration that the concept of accepting the consequences of your own actions is seen to leave too much to chance in an atmosphere of heightened control freakery.
It is acknowledged that poverty and deprivation impact on levels of criminality, although it doesn't excuse it. When Tony Blair sought the trust of the British people, he talked about being tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime. It would seem that, after nine years, that has been refined to "draconian on what the Daily Mail doesn't like, disinterested in the causes of what the Daily Mail doesn't like".
I expect instant condemnation from any right-minded Labour MP. But then, I also expect to be disappointed...