cynical by necessity

From the Victorian Parliamentary Hansard

It is fair to say that there is a widespread perception in the community that the sentences delivered by our courts are too lenient, that they do not reflect community views as to the gravity of the offences concerned and that they are failing to exercise an adequate deterrent effect or to take offenders out of circulation, thereby removing their capacity to cause further harm. I think there has been justifiable community concern that lenient sentences, whether through the court system or through what happens after sentences have been handed down, have resulted in offenders being released back into the community and then going on to reoffend when they may well not have done so had they continued to be kept behind bars. That is certainly a very strong concern coming from the community about the judicial system.

– Robert Clark, MP. Victorian Shadow Attorney General.

[This made me stamp around the office for a good 10 minutes.]

I’m writing to Mr Clark to ask the following: What makes this fair to say? Where is your evidence for any of this? [and we need something a little more substantial than a Herald Sun poll]. If it turns out that the community perception is as you describe, is your role to give voice to that perception, or to change it? Is the community necessarily versed in the nuances and subtleties of punishment and rehabilitation, in order to be able to make informed and helpful judgements? Perhaps we’re wrong and the judges are right. Perhaps they know a little more than we do already. Have you done any research at all into causes of recidivism? They don’t seem to be reflected in your statement…

It would all be so much less bothersome if the legal system worked in the same way that Clark’s speeches are crafted: “There’s a widespread perception in the community that Smith’s a murderer, so of course he’s guilty.” Imagine all that time we could save if we didn’t have to bother finding out the truth.

i read statements like this and i feel like our task is a little like trying to destroy Mt Everest, and we only have plastic spoons at our disposal.

Not to worry, though, i have a drawer full of them.