They say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Perhaps, no better example of that is “Victims' Rights” – the politically correct practice of granting victims of crime influence over a prisoner’s fate.
Some say I remain imprisoned beyond my release date – August 8, 2013 – in part because the victim’s family so desires. I am aware of the practice. It is, nonetheless, a stunning suggestion: A modern criminal justice system turning the fate of a prisoner over to civilians. (Is that not a sterilized version of turning suspects over to a lynch mob?)
Nothing so corrupts the pursuit of justice as emotions. All people hold soft spots for the victims of a tragedy. But they do not owe special favors to these dear people. Victims of crimes are no more entitled than are victims of disease, or natural disasters. They are to be shown empathy and respect, but dispensing justice cannot become part of their repertoire. Society must never feel compelled to assuage a victim’s grief with a breach of justice, no matter how good such a breach might make us feel about ourselves.
A victim’s heart is immoderately skewed. As harsh as it may sound, the only role victims should play in the criminal justice process is as witnesses sworn to the truth, like everyone else.
Justice is no popularity contest. It is a hard-earned virtue, fragile as man’s vanity – the cornerstone of societies everywhere. It is man’s earnest attempt to define guilt, and then levy the responsible consequences. “Victims’ Rights” inclusion into the mix is a capricious and fundamentally contradictory act – fancying-up with emotions what must strenuously be kept emotion-free.