Letter: A flimsy case

March 8, 2002

Andrew Edis QC makes dubious claims about restorative justice and the effectiveness of prison ("Putting the justice system on trial", THES , February 15).

"If we go for restorative justice, we shall abandon the right to any sort of trial at all," he says. This does not follow: the guilt or innocence of the accused must be properly assessed and this necessitates due process, that is a fair trial.

He continues with a dismissal of the notion that confronting offenders with their victims can deter crime. This notion is not a panacea, but Edis's scepticism is not warranted as this method does work with some offenders.

With reference to prison sentences for such crimes as causing death by dangerous driving, he states: "Nobody thinks that such sentences do any good in rehabilitating the convict, and it is doubtful whether such crimes can be deterred because they are not deliberate." On the contrary, there are plenty of people who believe that prison does act as a deterrent; and some are ex-offenders.

Lastly, I am amazed that a QC can take the view that dangerous driving is due to "momentary errors of judgement" and so not deliberate. If someone takes control of a vehicle knowing they are, for example, too tired to concentrate properly, they have made a deliberate decision to act in a reckless fashion that is endangering their own life and the lives of others.

Richard Wilson

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