Long jail terms are much better than Fagin’s fate

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Ilike to think I’m a fairly tolerant individual.

Unless I’ve just watched someone pinch the last parking space on my street on a rainy Sunday evening, I’m a fairly live-and-let-live kind of gal.

I like to believe there’s hope for everybody. Last week I mentioned how I was reading Oliver Twist and I want to think someone even as criminal as Fagin could have been rehabilitated.

You may call me a bleeding heart liberal for that kind of thing, but I can’t help it.

So I shocked myself a bit when I first heard about the debate surrounding the ‘whole life’ tariff for Lee Rigby’s murderers.

You’ll remember he was the soldier mown down by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who then set about him with knives and a meat cleaver.

You’ll also remember they did it in the name of Islam, when clearly they’d just decided to go out and kill a man in the armed forces and religion had nothing to do with it.

That was May last year and Lee Rigby’s family have been forced to wait nine months to find out what the men’s sentence would be.

Judges wanted to give ‘whole life’ tariffs, meaning the only time they’ll leave prison is in a casket of their own, but the Court of Human Rights has been considering whether that sentence should continue to be allowed.

Finally, though, the decision has been made. Adebolajo will not watch his six children grow, apart from when – and if – they ever visit him in chokey. He will be inside an institution for at least the next 50 years and, probably, kept away from others for his own safety.

The other one, Adebowale, is 22. He’s got life with a minimum term of 45 years, so he’ll be 67 when he’s out. No chance of kids, no chance of a job, nothing to show for his life at all.

What they did is unforgivable. As a society, it is right that we should be protected from them while punishing them and teaching them that they will never, ever, be able to be a part of the world, no matter how sorry they are in later life.

That’s much better than old Fagin’s fate – on the scaffold.