I was somewhat supportive of McDowell's statement today when he said that "you don't change your entire penal policy based on one incident, no matter how awful or grotesque or harrowing that incident may be".
This is in direct contradiction with the Taoiseach who called for tougher sentencing in the wake of the murder of Donna Carey in Dublin at the weekend.
Bertie Ahern told the Dáil that he would like to see tougher sentencing to ensure a person sent to prison for life is never released back into society.
The problem however is that the current sentencing policy is somewhat muddled. A person on a life sentence can sometimes be rehabilitated through incarceration. There are some however who can't be rehabilitated like sociopaths or child abusers.
In my opinion anyone who commits rape or anyone who abuses a child should spend the rest of their natural life in prison. I would prefer that they were hanged but as the current tide of social trend seems to pour scorn on that notion then incarceration for life is the next best option.
I can see however where McDowell is coming from on this issue, perhaps I should sit down and have a Brandy considering that I am agreeing with him?
There is a serious problem for society when the "mob" that is public opinion thinks it should be able to change penal policy on a whim. The law and particularly the law of sentencing needs a certain amount of judicial flexibility to handle cases on a case by case basis. That judicial discretion is needed to ensure that a miscarriage of justice is not imposed on anyone.
What needs to be done is to increase the maximum sentence provision so that the judiciary has the power to send particular criminals down for longer should the case warrant such action.
Mob mentality should never rule our judicial system.