Prison is increasingly seen as a “soft touch”, Yorkshire MPs warned as a teenager mocked his sentence after repeatedly breaching an Asbo.
Shipley MP Philip Davies called for tougher sentences and said stricter work regimes were needed in prisons.
The comments came as unemployed 18-year-old Jordan Canning laughed out loud as officers took him to prison after he was handed an eight-week sentence at Calderdale Magistrates Court.
He had breached his Asbo for the sixth time by trying to rip a bin off a wall at a bus station.
Canning, from Halifax, told the court he refused to do any unpaid community work as punishment, forcing magistrates to find other ways to deal with him.
When he was told the starting point for his sentence was six weeks in custody, Canning remarked: “Is that all?” His sentence was then increased to eight weeks because of his attitude and the fact he was on a youth rehabilitation order at the time of the offence.
Mr Davies said: “It is a shocking indictment on our criminal justice system when even the criminals think sentences are too lenient.
“Most people would think that this individual should have been sent to prison before now, and Jordan Canning is a prime example of why we also need to get a tough work regime in prison so that it is no longer seen as a soft touch”
Halifax MP Linda Riordan said: “This punishment is not strong enough at all and these short sentences don’t work. For a person who’s caused this much trouble the prison sentence has got to be longer. He’s terrorised the area – it’s got to be stronger. It’s the only way we are going to turn around areas like these.
“Community punishment is obviously better where it works, but in this case it clearly hasn’t.”
But Roma Hooper, director of campaign group Make Justice Work, said community punishments can be far more effective than prison sentences, though added that community penalties also need to be tougher if criminals were to be deterred from reoffending.
“This case highlights how ineffective it is putting someone in prison just for a few weeks. It’s not going to make any difference, “ she said.
“It’s not easy working with young people like this but our experience is that you can turn them around. He needs to get into a routine of getting up each day and having to go somewhere. He needs to face up to the victim. These things can’t be resolved in prison.
“People like this should be going to a centre, working with someone who looks at how they deal with their peers, looks at their attitude, works with their parents. They should be tagged for 12 hours a day. These tougher community punishments need to be more widespread.”
She added: “Most of the public don’t realise that if you get a six-month sentence, you’d serve three. But if you get the equivalent in a community sentence, you’d do a year.”
Canning was seen at Halifax bus station despite the fact an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) imposed in March 2011 prohibited him from being there.
The teenager, who gloated on a police Facebook page that he was free when his case was adjourned last month, chuckled when dock officers came to take him down to the cells. He previously told magistrates he had never had a job and did not like work – forcing them to delay his case to decide how to deal with him.
Canning repeated his stance at his hearing on Tuesday, repeating to his solicitor that he could not be bothered to do any unpaid work.
After the hearing on January 27, Halifax police added a link to his case to their Facebook page, sparking Canning’s quick response.
One of his gloating badly-spelt comments read: “Not really the result yous wanted is it? I’m still a free man haa wounded.” Another read: “Cos I’m cool I walked free for an extra 3 week :p bring on the 14th I’m ready :D”
When these were read in court Canning was grinning in the dock. Michelle Flaga, defending Canning, said he was immature but was making progress by engaging with a programme called Project Challenge three times a week.