Are our courts in tune with society’s reality?
I ask the above question based on a comment made by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Colleen Suche in her recent sentencing decision for killer Daniel Peterson.
I ask you consider it carefully:
Although it is trite in legal terms to say that a sentence does not speak to the value of a life, this is not always understood by the public, and for families often difficult to accept. Nothing will bring James Cruickshank back, nothing can remedy the harm that has been done by the taking of his life, and shattering the lives of his family. However, the law does not seek revenge: the notion of an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth is not part of our society. Rather, the law seeks retribution; that is, an objective, measured determination of an appropriate punishment which properly reflects the moral culpability of an offender, having regard to his intentional risk taking, the consequential harm caused by his behaviour, and the normative character of the behaviour. (Full decision is here)
After reading the above, I now ask you to consider the comments left on this story involving a teen who viciously robbed a man and left him essentially for dead in a back lane. It’s just one in a long list of stories where – anonymously, anyways — people appear to be thirsting for vengeance as a response to violent crime.
It’s pretty evident that Suche’s assessment conflicts with a significant sector of public sentiment, as right or wrong the ‘hang ’em high’ crowd may or may not be.
I make no personal judgement on Suche’s statement. I’m just noting it’s stuck in my head since reading it earlier today.
Philosophically speaking, is the “our society” Suche referring to the ideal one we’d all like to see? Or is it a mirage?