Saturday, 31 July 2010

Double standards?

A couple of interesting news stories have caught my eye this week.

Seventeen years ago, the horrific
James Bulger killing sent waves of shock reverberating round, making people wonder how on earth two young boys could be capable of anything so wicked. They were both given new names and identities before being released on licence in 2001, but in a disturbing recent development, it's been revealed that one of them - Jon Venables - has just been sentenced after pleading guilty to having childporn on his computer. Describing it rather ineptly as "breaking the last taboo", he's made quite a few people wonder whether he didn't do that back in 1993 and appears to have learned nothing since? Either way, the trial judge is convinced that his new identity and whereabouts must continue to be kept secret for fear of retaliation.

And as if to reinforce the point that there are people ready and willing to retaliate with their own brand of rough justice, Ian Huntley, of
Soham murders fame (or should one say infamy) is reported to be suing the prison authorities for negligence after having his throat slashed by a fellow-prisoner. Given his notoriety, it's something that could and should have been foreseen - the only question now being whether his claim for compensation is legitimate or not. Perhaps understandably the victims' organizations are appalled, but I was impressed by the comment made by the Prison Reform Trust: "If a court sentences someone to custody, they are not sentencing them to be attacked."

The pitfalls of vigiliante justice are all too obvious.

No comments:

Post a Comment