Friday, September 05, 2014

Send him down

Two stories from the same newspaper on the same day, and quite related. I am not sure which to begin with to make my point strongly.

The state government has removed the power of judges to decide how long a person convicted of a 'one punch' killing should go to gaol. Removing such power from judges is a very serious matter. A one punch killing is simply described as when someone is hit by surprise and is either killed or falls down and perhaps hits their head a dies. I am of the opinion that at times the offence should attract more than the government's stipulated ten year gaol term, and possibly at times less, depending on the circumstances.

The judge sits through the trial and hears all the details and circumstances and should be best placed to judge what sentence is appropriate.

But are their sentences appropriate? Many, including me, think quite often they are not.

Which brings me to the second story from the newspaper. Peter Ross Cramer smashed a beer glass over the head of a 'mate'. The man received serious damage to his eye and has some permanent damage. So what do you think the penalty might be for the person convicted of the assault? It was a community service corrections order. No gaol term.

So judges giving low sentences, judged by the public opinion, has brought the populist government (and which aren't) on to make the fixed term sentence for a one punch killing. Meanwhile judges continue to impose low sentences for appalling crimes. After I began this post, this came to my attention and I quote from the Bendigo Advertiser.

"A WOODVALE poultry farmer who left more than 4500 chickens to die (that is starve to death) has received a $3000 fine and no conviction."

Judges can look forward to more prescribed sentences and their sentencing powers reduced unless they  hand out more appropriate sentences.

18 comments:

  1. Andrew, I don't like judges,. At my place judges are not fair. And the courtroom is a theatre. Difficult world and so strange.

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    1. Gosia, courts are to be avoided at all costs, especially in countries inclined to corruption.

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  2. Judges are little gods, they want to have the power of life and death over people who break the law, that is something not many would find it hard to live but I think that to do that job you would had to think in a black a white way or be a bit on the mad side.
    I don't know any personally and never want to.
    Merle.............

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    1. Merle, they may agree with you, but I think they do see lots of grey. I expect there is some pressure on them to keep people out of prison.

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  3. It really is a minefield. And I wouldn't trust any government to set 'fair' sentences either.
    I am not at all certain what the solution is. And wish I knew.
    Some sentences are manifestly inadequate but there are errors on the other side as well. Too many errors.

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    1. EC, I'd rather leave it to the judges. Politicians can certainly guide community expectations, but they should stay out of the judicial system. Yes, errors, especially bad if you are black person in the US.

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    2. "fair sentences". There is a problem right there. what might seem a fair punishment to a judge and mot people could be seen as grossly unfair to the victim or the victim's family.

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    3. River, I don't really agree. Yes, your point is valid, but it needs to be viewed by community expectations.

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  4. Who would want to be a judge? An unenviable task.

    Having said that, I would severely punish all men who raped, starved or beat up women, children, defenceless animals or the elderly. Those victims cannot fight back.

    With young men beating each other up, usually under the influence of alcohol, I would devise more helpful punishments eg imprisonment in an alcoholic rehab centre or a treatment centre for violent offenders.

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    1. Hels, it is not to be envied, at all. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. I take violence on another person very seriously and I think the expectation for the guilty should be generally be gaol.

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    2. I've often thought a fitting punishment might be to sentence the perpetrator to caring for the victim 24/7 (and paying for the treatment of) for several years or until the victim is fully recovered. I live in Dreamland.

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    3. Paying might be good River, but they have no money and would they want to be in the company of such a person?

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  5. Fun fact - many studies have shown that once members of the public are given all of the facts around a given case, the majority of them agree that the sentences imposed by judges are appropriate:

    http://theconversation.com/tabloid-driven-sentencing-policies-waste-public-money-and-lives-27072

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    1. Marcus, I am aware of the studies but I find violence on another person unforgivable, especially if unprovoked. I also despair at animal cruelty. It is only my opinion which is given without knowing the trial details, but on the face of it, both punishments were grossly inadequate. You nearly ruin someone's eyesight by smashing a glass on their head and you don't go to gaol? You starve thousands of animals to death and no conviction is recorded?

      I have read as much as was published in the press and there may well have been some mitigating circumstances in both cases of which I am not aware but I simply cannot imagine what could possibly mitigate such crimes to such an extent.

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  6. That poultry farmer should have a lifelong ban on owning chickens imposed upon him.
    That bottle smasher should have got a jail sentence too.

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    1. River, that would take away his livelihood. What about his wife and children? Such is what judges have to decide.

      Yep, I reckon the bottle smasher should have seen the inside of prison, for a short time at least.

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  7. It really is very hard to understand Andrew I agree. It was hard enough doing jury duty, having the responsibility of someone's future in your hands.. I do know that when I hear about some of the horrendous things people do, to babies and animals etc my first thought is seriously they're a waste of air space, but then I think what made them that way.. oh I don't know, I can't be thinking about this now I'm just off to bed :)

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    1. Grace, no doubt like I see, you notice young parents with kids and the parents are so bad, you know it will be extraordinary thing if any of the kids turn out well. No, it is not an easy area. Thanks for your say.

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