Saturday, April 28, 2018

Theodore Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels)

I am a huge fan. This week I have re-read Life at the Bottom which gave me cause to check my link to Dalrymple at this blog. It was obsolete, but is now operational.

Here is a sample of his recent writing for the Spectator:

"The furore over the parole granted to John Worboys, the rapist taxi driver, misses the point entirely — that the system of parole is disgraceful in theory and irredeemably unworkable in practice. The only thing that it is good for is the employment of large numbers of officials engaged in pointless or fatuous tasks who might other-wise be unemployed.
The system is predicated on the ability of experts to predict the future conduct of convicted prisoners. Will they or will they not repeat their crimes if let out early?"

There is nobody I read who makes me think more, and sometimes, laugh more.

Having spent over two years working with a prisoner towards parole I utterly understand the sense in Dalrymple's view. The arbitrariness of whether or not a prisoner will walk free is unacceptable.

A man is to be punished for what he has done beyond reasonable doubt, not for what some questionnaire or bogus calculation says he has a 70 per cent chance of doing at some time in the future.

But there is also a seductive humanity to monitoring how prisoners progress through the system and allowing earlier release. Some actually improve in their self-awareness and mature, though I doubt it's a majority. At the same time Dalrymple (having been a prison psychiatrist) fully comprehends some prisoner's surprising and skillful capacity to 'play the game'.


Anonymous said...

You might be interested in in a more recent essay of his.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Thank you. Read and re-read. What IS going on in North Korea??

Jd said...

Lindsay, do you have a link to the quoted work in your post? Cheers JD

Jd said...

Founds it. Jd

Richard McGrath said...

I love reading the works of Anthony Daniels a.k.a. Theodore Dalrymple, but he does seem to have a rather irrational dislike of Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy. Not that I'm biased of course!