Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
I've been thinking about the good and bad in 2007. One of the worst of the year is Garth McVicar's so-called 'Sensible Sentencing Trust', set up to advocate for victims' rights.
Now if that was all the Trust occupied itself doing, I'd have no problem. But they consistently act as a political lobby group, trying to convince politicians (who are vulnerable on this issue) to give tougher sentences.
Today (Boxing Day in New Zealand) is supposed to be 'white rose' day, where people are encouraged to wear white roses to remember the victims of recidivist drunk drivers. In actuality, it crates a platform for McVicar to witter on about the much tougher penalties these people deserve. Clever. Boxing Day is a 'no-news' day, which is why he chose it. This group is dangerously politically savvy.
The problem is, tougher prison sentences cost this country in a variety of ways, and never do any good. 'Oh, but if a recidivist drunk driver is in jail, (s)he isn't on the road killing people'. True. But a lifetime disqualification would achieve the same result, and allow the putative prisoner to contribute to society rather than costing us upwards of $100,000 per year to incarcerate.
But what about the right of victims to see the criminal punished? Sorry, but it is society that sends someone to jail. The victim has no more right to exact punishment than the rest of us, and that is as it should be. And punishment is only part of what is required to deal with someone committing a criminal offence.
Think. A hundred recidivist drunk drivers in jail for (say) two years longer than normal, as a result of McVicar succeeding, costs the taxpayers twenty million dollars extra. This is money that would be better spent on education or policing. Don't put people in jail when a less extreme measure will remove the risk they pose. Instead, keep them in society. I'm in favour of requiring them to work for the community, or even their victim. Constructive solutions come from a desire to redeem; destructive solutions from the desire to punish. We should take a leaf out of Finland's book and minimise our prison population to those whose freedom would pose a risk to society.
McVicar claims we've been part of a 'liberal experiment'. I don't think we've been nearly liberal enough. Find other ways to heal yourself than 'an eye for an eye'. Think outside the square. Remember the victims, yes, but don't forget the needs of society in your desire for revenge. And whenever the Sensible Sentencing Trust appear on the media, how about listening to them with a little more skepticism?
I've yielded to my impulse for gagetry and bought a GPS receiver. This doodad allows me to locate stuff. Well, that is, it gives an accurate (within 5 metres) reading of where I am when using it. So I can build up a map of locations. My offsider, Paul, is going to Bahrain next month and will use it to locate obscure placenames and sites of archeological interest not currently on maps.
Handy tool. Bet you all want one now.
So, after a fortnight's pondering, here are the results of the competition.
You know, I've never had trouble naming a book before. Titles come easily to me. I have no idea why this one has proved intractable. I discussed it with my editor and she told me I have until February to decide. Sigh. She could have told me that earlier.
Oh yes, the results.
I did suggest a possible title to my editor, but she rejected it. Too close to one of Jennifer Fallon's, apparently.
Have I told you the results yet?
The title I chose was one of my own making: Immortal's End. As I said, the editor rejected it.
The best of the serious suggestions was Owen's 'Ravaged Earth'. Get in touch with me through this site, Owen.
The silliest of the silly suggestions is a tie between Linda's 'Donkey' titles and Gillian's extended title. I'll make sure you both get books and reading lessons.
And I'm not really all that much closer ...