Scales Of Justice - By Prisoner Ben

A recent murder trial raised the issue of whether victims should be forced to have their evidence tested via cross-examination by the defence.

Such an experience is inevitably going to be emotionally painful for witnesses and, equally inevitably, out of compassion we would want to reduce the suffering of people who have already endured terrible experiences.

And yet...with liberty at stake, to be swayed by compassion in the adversarial process would undermine justice. Evidence must be tested, harshly, before people are convicted and thrown in prison.

Of course victims deserve compassion, but never to the extent that this undermines the rights of the defendant. We must never forget that while the process may be difficult for witnesses, the potential consequences for those on trial are even worse.

This torment is inevitable in the criminal justice process. Its purpose is to attribute responsibility and punishment.

If we, as a society, want a process that aims to reduce additional harm, we really must seriously consider the benefits of restorative justice.

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