Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Sentencing is for the courts, not for public opinion

Dear TV news programmes. 

Please stop asking the relatives of murder victims what they think of the prison sentences served by murderers. They will almost always say they are not long enough, and may or may not support the death penalty. This isn't surprising, and they cannot be criticised for the fact that their opinion is informed by grief and anger. However, they are not experts in either the practice of the law or the study of criminology.

Sentences are properly determined by the courts, in accordance with the law of the land. Come the day when they are determined by tabloid headlines, politicians, public opinion, or by the families of victims, we will be well on the way to losing our right to calling ourselves a civilised society.