Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mr. Ackland on criminal justice


Mr. Richard Ackland had an opinion piece in last Thursday’s Sydney Morning Herod on supposed public misconceptions about matters of criminal justice. He writes that

In fact, the proportion of people being sent to jail in the major serious crime groups has been rising for seven years.

Just take a few examples. In sexual assault and related cases, 16 per cent of those convicted went to prison in 2000. Last year it was more than 24 per cent. In robbery cases 25.8 per cent of offenders were imprisoned, and last year that had risen to 45.3 per cent.
but fails to mention what sentences were handed down and whether those sentences were intended as punishments for the satisfaction of justice, or whether the punishment was merely a means to deterring or reforming the offender. But even if we just examine it as the bare question of whether or not a conviction was achieved, one has to ask: conviction for what crime? For another way in which the so-called justice system has institutionalised injustice is by the system of ‘plea bargains’ whereby one may plead guilty to a lesser crime in order to guarantee the prosecution a conviction, any conviction. A better way to balance the need to economise on court costs with the need to punish the offender as fully as retribution requires would be the following offer:

Plead guilty to the charge of which you know you are guilty and you will receive the penalty that fits that crime. Plead not guilty and if you are found guilty then you receive the penalty for your original crime, plus you will be prosecuted for the crime of perjury and thereby receive an additional penalty.

That way a differential between the penalty for a guilty plea and the penalty for a not guilty plea that fails, or, if you will, between the pay-offs for compliance and non-compliance, is maintained, while justice will certainly be satisfied in the case of an unsuccessful not guilty plea according to my proposal, whereas it might not be under the equivalent outcome in the prevailing method.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of Ss. Simon and Jude, Apostles
Memorial of Alfred the Great, 2008 A.D.

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