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Thursday, September 01, 2005

The sentencing of murderers - should families' experiences have an effect?

In today’s news – families of murder victims are to have their say in court. This is a new idea this is being proposed that will give families of murder victims a chance to have a say in court about how they have been affected.

The BBC quotes some critics as saying this won’t make a difference to sentences – is that really the point of it? Surely there is no measure of grief that people go through when family members or friends are murdered. Surely punishment for crimes should be based on the nature of the crime, not the reactions of people close to the victim. The murder of a person not well loved by their family, i.e. so much so that the family do not personally suffer as much as families that are very close does not make that murder any less of a crime or any less punishable.

Does this not make for a much more subjective judgement that we already have?

If this is an attempt to bring families ‘closure’ and help them play a more active part in the sentencing of prisoners then shouldn’t they be given more information about police work, or a chance to discuss sentencing options and how they would be carried out with a judges representative or something similar.

This sounds very much like another of the half baked ideas our current government is so fond of.

2 comments:

Winter said...

I agree. I cannot see any value in introducing this practice. Surely a judge should not be awarding a sentence on the basis of the family's feelings or, more specifically, the family's performance of feelings? The sentence is awarded on the basis of the crime committed. If your family doesn't put on a good enough show of grief would that mean your murderer might get a lighter sentence? I'm sure its not supposed to, but then what is the point of the show? I don't think adding this kind of melodrama would be helpful. It's sort of exploitative of the grieving family anyway and I don't see how it would help them gain closure.

Naiades said...

i agree, i find it very wierd, i mean what is the actual point of it, i know some family members may find it helpful in that they 'have their say' but what happens then, what if the vedict isn't waht they want and they are left feeling that they didn't make them selves clear enough, or that the justice system, didn't do justice despite knowing their pain.

humm very wierd if you ask me. really not sure how helpful it will actually be in the long run to enyone involved.

rx