ColumnistsPaddy Murray

Stop confusing justice and law..if you do the crime, you do the time

Odd: Inmates out early
Odd: Inmates out early

I will forever be confused by our legal system.

I don’t understand, for example, why prisoners are let out early for ‘good behaviour’.

After 40 years working, I can safely say that I was never once told by my employers to go home early because my behaviour was good. 

Nor did I ever get a week’s holidays because I behaved myself.

In school, good behaviour was expected and not rewarded, while bad behaviour was punished. 

Why is it different for people who break the law?

And here’s another thing...

Why do people who are caught committing a crime, get shorter sentences because of ‘early guilty pleas’?

They were caught. In most cases, they didn’t have  much choice but to plead guilty. So why the reward?

And I am utterly baffled when judges dish out shorter sentences, or suspend half of a long sentence, because the convicted person was ‘of previous good character’.

How does the judge know that?

Is it not possible, or probable, that they simply weren’t caught before and that their previous character was actually pretty appalling?

You see, the whole problem is, I think, that our system – and most judges in particular – confuse justice and law.

What they do is interpret law instead of dispense justice.

Which isn’t very clever when you think about it.

And it makes me wonder why every judge shouldn’t have beside them, an ordinary Joe Soap telling them what ordinary people think.