Saturday, November 03, 2007

Justice

A van driver has been jailed for causing death by dangerous driving. After a heavy night drinking, he reported to work as normal; after recklessly using his mobile phone, he appears to have dozed off at the wheel, colliding with a family car and forcing it off the road. The only survivor was an 8-year-old boy; he has lost his parents and siblings, and is being cared for by his grandparents.

Source: BBC News November 2nd, 2007

Of course it is right that the van driver should go to prison. But what about the boy? I think there would be greater justice if the van driver had to work for the next ten years (not driving obviously) and paying child support to the boy's grandparents. (I never thought I'd be finding more work for the Child Support Agency, but there you go.) Once the boy has grown up, then the van driver can serve his sentence in prison.

The way our legal system works, of course, a solution like this simply isn't available. We are (perhaps rightly) wary of giving too much initiative to judges, who are required to adhere to complicated legislation and procedure, with sub-optimal results in particular cases. So I have a nostalgic fantasy of some system of village elders that might be able to produce real justice in particular cases.

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