the baggy trousered misanthropist

missives issued from the lair

If, heaven forbid, your child was murdered, there aren’t too many people on the planet who would begrudge you the right to five minutes alone in a room with the individual(s) responsible. And possibly a crowbar.

But as we all know, this kind of frivolity isn’t conducive to a civilised society. The justice system was created to take the emotion out of such matters and mete out fair punishment to criminals. Which would be fantastic if it worked.

Michael Brown’s thirty-six year old daughter Clare Wood was murdered by a man she met on Facebook. It has been reported that she complained to police on several occasions about her partner, not knowing that he had a ‘history of violence against women, including knifepoint kidnapping’

This has led Mr Brown to back a proposal for police to make such information available to victims of domestic violence. The notion is not dissimilar in intent to ‘Sarah’s Law’; a scheme that allows parents to check whether someone with access to their children has a history of child sex offences.

It all sounds tremendously rational. But when it becomes necessary for the families of murder victims to campaign for changes in law that might have prevented the offence in the first place, it’s clear that the very system designed to protect them isn’t working in their best interests. And the problems it was designed to eliminate begin to surface again.

Take ‘Sarah’s Law’, the campaign mounted by murder victim Sarah Payne’s mother, Sara, after her eight year old daughter was abducted and murdered by a convicted paedophile.  In theory, providing relevant information about the environment in which a parent is bringing up their child is a positive thing. In practice, there will always be a minority of people who misinterpret and/or abuse the information supplied for such a purpose, thus rendering the original point of the campaign utterly meaningless.

If this is the case, and the arguments consistently cited against the implementations of these and other amendments to the law (such as euthanasia) suggest it is, then should we really be complaining that the justice system is at fault? A system is only as good as its weakest link, and while there are people who won’t respect laws and the reasons they are there, a man like Michael Brown can never make things better.

For himself or anyone else.

Image via novinky.cz

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