Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Could there be a break-out of altruism is politics?

The automatic life sentence given to people found guilty of murder is once more under discussion; DPP Keir Starmer has said he favours change. Quite right.

The automatic life sentence was brought in as a political act at a time when it was fashionable to attack judges. Like much legislation, it was knee-jerk and badly throught through; but never mind, the public liked it. Almost never is there a ‘one size fits all’ within the justice system. Clearly, though it’s not necessarily comfortable to recognise it, there are different types of murder.

However, although it may be right to look at it and a number of significant people (politicians and lawyers) may think it important, is there any political advantage?

Part of the present argument is that it may affect the way joint liability can be used in the context of gangs where, say, a person dies from a stab wound. It can be the case that no one person can be found guilty of wielding the knife. Whether or not a ‘graded’ system of murder charges and sentences will help in this situation is far from clear; but it does need thinking about.

What is clear is that the sorts of decisions needed hear should not be made for political gain or advantage - a vain hope no doubt. And, sadly, I see no real political will to instigate discussion and change . . . because there’s no political advantage.

No comments:

Post a Comment