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Retribution or Restitution

Now that shamed MP Chris Huhne has submitted a guilty plea it is up to the judge to decide on sentencing appropriate to the charge Huhne faces of perverting the course of justice. Speculation is rife that he faces prison for certain, not the first MP to do so; MP’s were handed down prison terms for their part in the expenses scandal. But what do you think the judge should go for? Does Huhne necessarily deserve a custodial sentence or could the judge opt for some form of community sentencing combined perhaps with a restorative justice element?

According to the Telegraph, Mr Justice Sweeney told Huhne he should “have no illusions whatsoever” about the type of sentence he is likely to receive. The maximum penalty for the offence is life imprisonment.

Mr Justice Sweeney faces a perfect illustration of the pressure that many judges come under – a sentence that benefits the crime, in proportion and as short as possible verses all of the above plus an element of deterrent or setting an example for others.

In my opinion Chris Huhe should not be made an example just by virtue of the fact he is an MP and has held a high profile position in the Government. Surely the judge should disregard is job title in the same way that people not in the public eye. Otherwise we are descending into the “court of public opinion”.

This of course begs the question of the role that restorative justice could play if adopted into the mainstream of the criminal justice system of England and Wales. Time will only tell if members of the judiciary will have the courage to use it as part of their toolbox when determining appropriate sentencing.

Retribution or restitution what are we really seeking here?

Chris Huhne quits as he faces jail after pleading guilty to perverting course of justice (2013) The Telegraph 05 February 2013. [Online]. Available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/liberaldemocrats/9847152/Chris-Huhne-quits-as-he-faces-jail-after-pleading-guilty-to-perverting-course-of-justice.html [accessed] 05 February 2013.

Photo: The Telegraph

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