Is this the right punishment for a Coward’s Punch?
The general public has been outraged by the number of deaths of innocent young men who have been knocked to the ground by a savage blow from behind by another young man unknown to him but often surrounded by a group of mates.
The public wanted action from the State Government and they got it: 8 years minimum sentence with no parole period.
But has the State Government acted too quickly on this issue? For example:
- The purpose of the correctional system is punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation and public safety. Will an 8-year mandatory prison term meet all of the above? Particularly in the area of deterrence and rehabilitation?
- This new “tough-on-crime” approach will fill up our prisons once again, even though the state government has been leading the way in reducing the prison population.
- Why have we taken sentencing away from the judiciary, when this is their area of expertise?
- Will our courtrooms become jammed with questions like what is the definition of drunk? Or what if the victim doesn’t die but suffers serious head injury?
- Since most of these violent young men seem to be showing off to their mates, maybe describing the behaviour as a coward punch rather than a king hit might be an effective deterrent and cause shame and embarrassment to would-be assailants in future.
- Perhaps if they plead guilty they should be given the opportunity to appear before a panel of grieving family members to explain their actions.
This is a very difficult issue and we all want young people to be safe when they go out in the evening. However, the answer might be much deeper than severe prison terms.
For example, what about the culture of alcohol and leisure? What about society’s attitudes towards violence? We should look at these issues rather than relying totally on imprisonment to solve our serious social problems.