As sentencing continues in last week’s riots across Britain, some observers fear the punishments far outweigh the crimes. Two young British men who used Facebook to call for local rioting have each received four-year jail sentences—though the riots they suggested never took place. In one case, a 20-year-old man set up a Facebook event labeled “Smash Down in Northwich,” but only police showed up at the appointed time, the Guardian reports.
“This happened at a time when collective insanity gripped the nation," said the judge. "Your conduct was quite disgraceful and the title of the message you posted on Facebook chills the blood." Another man, 22, created a Facebook page called “The Warrington Riots” and took it down the following day, calling it a joke. In his case, too, the page did not lead to a specific riot, but that didn't protect him from the 4-year sentence. Magistrates have been told by their supervisors to ignore “normal sentencing” when it comes to the riots, sparking an outcry from civil rights advocates and defense lawyers, the Guardian reports. Click to read about a 16-year-old facing murder charges.