I am nothing short of horrified by the latest suggestions from home secretary John Reid. He think victims of crime should be allowed to influence release schedules for imprisoned criminals...
Now let's have a little recap of what the justice system and prison service are supposed to do for us. Basically the way I see it locking bad people up serves four purposes:
1) Acts as a deterrent to the population at large.
2) Acts as a deterrent to criminals who might re-offend.
3) Keeps dangerous criminals out of public circulation while they continue to present a risk.
4) Provides an opportunity for rehabilitation and re-education of criminals to provide them with the opportunity to integrate into non-criminal life.
What is NOT on that list is "Makes people feel better about being a victim of crime". That's not there. What this effectively does is takes the system out of the hands of highly-trained judges and the jury of your peers that we're all so proud of as a means of treating everybody equally and puts it into the hands of whoever looks the most hurt.
If your son or daughter's been murdered then no amount of input into the justice system is going to help you deal with that. They could make you chief of police and you'd still be the parent of a murdered child.
And now we're headed for a situation where it'll be a definite no-no to murder someone who has a close-knit family with a reputation for stroppiness, but a homeless guy with nothing more than a social worker on his side probably won't get you more than a fortnight's community service. WRONG! The whole point of the justice system is, err, you're going to think this is radical but, err, JUSTICE!! Bingo! Clues in the name... And justice means that the punishment fits the crime, not that the punishment fits how emotionally engaging the victim or his/her parents can be in court.
The next time I'm being followed down a dark alleyway by a dangerous-looking stranger perhaps I'll stop and show him my Equity card: "Seriously mate, don't rape me, I trained at RADA!"