Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Everyone needs protection from violent assault

While I can understand the angry reaction to the bashing of Sergeant Brett Ward, it seems odd that people are calling for mandatory higher sentences for assaults on police, per se. It seems the response to violent attacks in Victoria is constantly being tracked away from the main problem (people being violent, full stop) towards proposals that focus on certain exceptions: assaults on police or public officers, assaults in a group, assaults motivated by race, alcohol as a cause, late nights as a cause, and so on.

How about this: violently assaulting another person without an extremely good explanation (self defence, or a complete lack of sanity at the relevant time) should result in some of the heaviest sanctions in the legal system.

Where psychiatric problems are a cause, this should result in appropriate treatment rather than senseless punishment. However the community should be protected by some level of restriction and supervision until it can be certified that the risk of repeat offending is low.

Wrist slapping gave us this:

He had a criminal career laced with extreme violence and Justice Coghlan was asked to take into account his 60-plus prior convictions. Many included the use of weapons and a number of his assaults were against women.

So why, why, WHY was he walking around on the streets?


TimT said...

Oh, you. Stop it. With logical and coherent arguments like that, you'll put The Age to shame.

Helen said...

It's a problem, isn't it? because as you know, prison is like a training ground for violence and other criminal behaviour. So while custodial sentences always look nice and revengey on paper, they may not work - at least, when they get out.

I'm thinking a whole year of unpaid community service living at home with an ankle tag or something like that - but that would bring its own problems. What is needed is something to get them away from potential victims - but what? They should also be forced to do reparations - something for which the proceeds are given to the victims, perhaps?