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khendon always goes nuts when bereaved victims of some tragedy get given soapboxes to vent their opinions into the public sphere out of misplaced sympathy for their loss, and now I guess it's my turn to go off on the very idea of "Tim's Law" - a telltale if you ever saw one.  Proposed legislation named after any recently victimised individual is pretty much guaranteed to be terrible, terrible law.

Heaven knows that there's no assurance that the evaluators in a psych ward will ever be able to say with certainty, much as they might try, that someone like Li won't go off again (though I thought they had a decent track record and I'll need to dig up some stats on recidivism rates among not-criminally-responsible verdicts), but making law such that there's no constructive difference between a murder committed with intent, and one committed without even the capacity for intent, strikes me as a poor idea.

Even avoiding the slippery slope of considering other murders done without proper mens rea (the criminally negligent, young children, etc.), we have to ask ourselves what it says about us as a society to disclaim the very idea that the mentally ill can be rehabilitated. You might well say that such a person is no great loss, compared to the one they would have killed, but a) that is not your choice to make, and b) the criminal law is not purposed to obtain anyone's revenge for them, it is purposed to protect society and maintain order at the minimum cost in the rights of citizens. It is proper that those who deliberately commit crimes pay a high cost in rights, but unfortunate events cannot justify exacting the same price from those who are not as responsible for their actions.

Of course, I suppose that the fact that I'm concerned about principles of justice when there are angry victims to be consoled makes me part of the problem. First against the wall when the revolution comes.



( Walk in the shadow — Cast a shadow )
Mar. 7th, 2009 08:03 am (UTC)
I like the way this proposed law basically says that parole should be for everyone but people with psychiatric disabilites.

And by "like" I mean "am enraged by."
( Walk in the shadow — Cast a shadow )