Some in the legal community argue the media is stoking these feelings of mine through sensationalist reporting that excludes the reasons why a judge hands down a particular sentence. Others in the legal community agree that the sentences are simply too light. These differences of opinion amongst legalese indicate that sentencing is, within reason, subjective: ultimately the severity of the punishment comes down to the sentencing judge’s individual values.
Judges who are more empathetic towards the victim will deliver a harsher sentence than judges who have convinced themselves that the law, itself, trumps life, and that they are the law. The root cause for light sentencing of serious crime comes down to a judge’s ego. The good magistrates do not let their appointed role numb their humanity; they don’t seek to impose their egos on society by handing down sentences that don’t reflect society’s expectations. The law is not medicine – it rarely save lives in the true sense of the meaning. Judges are not doctors. There is no room for egos. There is only the victim.
I firmly believe that sentencing for the worst crimes should only take into account the impact of the crime on the victim and their families. Murder should have a mandatory life sentence. There are more than enough examples of light sentences leading to further tragedy to warrant a complete review of the way our judiciary is run. Justice is not being served by the people responsible for delivering it.
As for the murderer: if they truly repent their crimes they would truly understand the impact of their actions, and have no desire to re-integrate with society. They would humbly accept life in prison. In fact, they would demand it. Rarely is this the case.
Jonathan K Benton