Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hang Them High!

I'm always amazed at the harshness of English criminal punishment, especially when it comes to driving offenses. For example:

- The man sentenced to 5 years for falling asleep while driving and causing a rail accident. See this BBC article where the victims families complain that he only served 2 1/2 years.
- A 26 year old man jailed for 2 years for killing a young woman. This Times article finds it extremely important that the woman was a bright Oxford graduate.
- The young man who crashed his car outside my parents house a couple of years ago and killed his fellow passenger. He was sent to a maximum security prison for 3 years. Last year a flower appeared by the post where the accident happened, with the message "I'm sorry".

I personally can think of no good years in jail will do for these young men, the victims or their families. Do English politicians, judges and public have no understanding for the horror it must be to be responsible for killing someone and that prison is just an expensive way of giving into feelings of vengeance?

The Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald, QC actually thinks sentences are to lenient. To The Observer on Sunday he argued that many sentences to drivers responsable for deadly accidents are "absolutely dire" and undermine the publics confidence in the entire criminal justice system. Mr Macdonald is incensed that such drivers often only get a fine (see here.)

I do not believe dangerous driving should have no criminal sanction. However, imposing long jail sentences for this offence, just to satisfy a vengeful public, is in my opinion wrong.


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