If Biggs & co were the same age that they were in the 60's & were to commit the same crime, or something similar, now I think they wouldn't have been sentenced to anything like as long as they were. Indeed, commentators in 1963 had said that the sentences they'd got were steep. It was thought by some that the Establishment had wanted to send out a warning to any others - this was the beginning of the so-called "Permissive Society" - to 'keep their place'.
Certainly the sentences were not uncalled for. The train driver had been repeatedly battered & later died. What upset me as a ten year old boy, & in later years, was listening to lots people expressing a wish that the driver had died within a year & a day of the robbery & then all of the robbers could've been hanged. I was of the view that the driver shouldn't have died at all.
But, yes, it has amazed me how attitudes have changed in regards to what is a fitting sentence for various offences. Although various governments have interfered greatly by providing sentencing policies designed to cut the spending they've needed to make on imprisoning people, I've often lately become of the opinion that some judges seem to approach sentencing in the manner of having closed their eyes, crept forward little by little, then administered a sharp slap on the wrist & then retreated rapidly out of harms way. Perhaps this because of a culture within the judiciary resulting from that interference? If it is, there is no wonder so many people don't worry too much what happens to them after they've been arrested.