an election idea?
One of the major parties has come up with the idea that they will not let convicted killers out on parole unless they have told people where the body is. Oh, good idea! There was a rush of support for it.
But is it a good idea? I can see some problems with it. I suspect most people reading this will see some problems with it too. The most obvious is, what would happen to the innocent person who was convicted and did not know where the body was?
We like to think our legal system does not make mistakes but of course it does. It is run by humans. Humans make mistakes.
I can remember several incidents from my childhood. My third year teacher accused me of doing something I had not done.
"You can sit there until you apologise," she told me. As I had done nothing to apologise for I sat there. I sat there all through morning recess. "I didn't do it." I sat there at lunch time in tears - and without my lunch. "I didn't do it." I sat there after school - in more tears by then - until my father came from his classroom to take me home. "I didn't do it." I went home and my mother gave me a beating - for not apologising. "I didn't do it." She went to school with me the following morning - in order to try and make me apologise. I refused. "I didn't do it." I was not going to apologise for something I had not done.
At that point one of the other teachers discovered what was going on and informed my teacher that the culprit had been discovered and punished the day before.
I was let out of detention without an apology. "If you had apologised you could have saved yourself all that trouble," I was told, "You deserved to be kept in for being rude." Apparently saying I didn't do it was rude. I don't think I was rude - just furious at being accused and unjustly punished.
So much for that. It was one of those situations in which children are completely powerless. I imagine an innocent but convicted prisoner must feel much the same way. Even now I wonder what would have happened if the other teacher had not come forward.
I can remember another occasion in the same year on which I had been asked to do something by another teacher - just before the bell rang to return to class. Of course I was late back to class. I got detention for being late - even after I had explained - because the punishment for being late was detention. There were no exceptions to the rule.
I can remember the awful occasion when I was accused of stealing money from my mother's purse. The money - a note - turned up later tucked into her bankbook. She had put it there herself and, apparently, forgotten she had done so. I was thrashed, sent to bed without my tea and denied an outing before she found it - and, of course, everyone else knew what was going on.
Again there was no apology and all I could say was, "I didn't do it."
In effect I was innocent and I did not know where the body was either.
There were other incidents. I remember them too well I suppose. There is a need to be flexible and to take individual circumstances into account, to ask questions and listen to the answers
One size fits all rarely, if ever, fits everyone.