Sunday, 27 May 2012

revenge or rehabilitation?

There has been outrage among Swindon Town FC fans this week over the potential appointment of goalkeeper Luke McCormick when he is released from Prison next month.

McCormick has served less than four years of a seven year sentence for causing death by dangerous driving, when he hit a car while travelling at 97 miles an hour down the M6, resulting in the deaths of two boys, aged ten and eight.

From a moral perspective, the public is outraged. Luke McCormick is responsible for the deaths of two innocent children. He is responsible and yet just a few years on he is going to be allowed to resume his life, presumably as if nothing has happened, while those two innocent children will never again have the chance to do anything.

But realistically, should we have the right to decide where someone is or isn’t allowed to go after they have served their sentence which has been rightly handed down to them by the justice system?

I abhor drink driving, and I firmly believe that someone who knowingly gets behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol, who then goes on to cause the death of innocent people should be brought to account for doing so.

However, knowingly driving while drunk does not imply that you intend to kill people, and I do think that on some levels we have lost sight of that. After all, how many hundreds of thousands of people drink and drive every week. How many people go out on a Thursday night and get drunk, and then get into their cars on a Friday morning, potentially still over the limit? Emotions run high because children died. However drink driving is a far more common phenomenon, and yet the reaction to that, while often harsh is nowhere near the reaction to this.

Also, many have made the point that while Luke McCormick should be allowed to work following his release from prison, it should not be allowed to happen in a public arena. And the question then is, why not? As a society, surely we either believe in the rehabilitation of offenders, or we don’t. There can’t be middle ground between rehabilitation and non rehabilitation – it is unreasonable to expect that someone who has committed an offense, has served their time for that offence and has then been released into society should be expected to keep out of the public’s way purely on the basis that the public don’t want to know that they’re there. There are of course exceptions in terms of people who have committed sexual offenses and are considered a risk to certain members of the public needing to conform to certain restrictions, however we cannot as members of the public start to demand that people who, having served their sentences, should have to meet with certain restrictions purely on the basis that we the public feel we have the right to apply our own moral code to others’ situations.

Many people have issues with the length of sentences for certain crimes, and I do sympathise with that. However, our issue with that should surely be directed at the justice system, not at the individuals themselves or those who choose to employ them upon their release. I can only hope that Luke McCormick has learned from the mistakes he has made, and have little doubt that he will live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life. There are some who will believe that there is no punishment harsh enough for the death of two innocent children, however, Luke McCormick has served his sentence, and as such should be fit to work in possibly the only career that he is able to. Furthermore, Swindon Town should be allowed to support the rehabilitation of an offender by employing him if they so wish.

1 comment:

  1. Really good piece. I feel you are right to point out we should not expect people to suffer their sentences beyond that which is metered out by the justice system. However it is difficult not to react when it is time for these individuals to rejoin society, especially when their actions have taken the life of another. For me the biggest factor is whether the offender is remorseful. Without remorse, history is more likely to repeat itself.