Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Inconsistencies in attitudes to the legal system

[trigger warning]

Okay, so we have a group of crimes where:

  • There are very harsh sentences for those convicted, with even the least serious offences in this group likely to give several weeks if not months in jail.
  • Bail is generally refused for those charged, so there's a good chance of being in jail on remand for months while a full trial is scheduled, even if completely innocent.
  • The police may batter down your door at 5 in the morning to arrest you if suspected, and then hold you for days.
  • There can be serious damage to one's reputation within the local community for those suspected and especially convicted of these crimes, and the police and media widely report (more widely than usual) on convictions to ensure this.
  • Those accused are mostly male.
  • The government, police, companies, charities and media are encouraging anonymous reports of these offences to try to ensure as many offenders as possible are caught.
  • The courts have been condemned by many observers and legal experts for attempting to rush the legal process at the expense of justice.

On the whole, in fact, it's quite clearly about vengeance and being seen to be doing something, rather than justice, rehabilitation, and repairing the damage caused to society by these crimes.

One would have naively thought that the usual suspects would have been very vocal about the need to guard against the possibility of malicious accusations, and to give defendants in these cases anonymity to protect their reputations, but I haven't - including doing some searches specifically to look for them - found a single one.

Actually, I'd have been surprised if I had - but it just goes to show how little "reputation", "fairness" or "justice" are actually concerns of theirs.