I’ve written before on the cancer of vox pop democracy, where all matters of policy must run the gauntlet of the vox pop test – which is to say that it must instantly appeal to a majority of shoppers at Fountain Gate who have a microphone shoved into their face and asked something like “Are you in favour of letting pedophiles go scott free so they can repeat offend?”
I’ve always thought that the jury is a fine institution for the way in which it avoids the pitfalls of this kind of thing while being radically democratic. Here we have ordinary people, but they’ve been informed of the case and deliberated on the matter. In talking about Campbell Newman’s implementation of his promise to impose mandatory sentencing this article includes a link to a Tasmanian study in which those who had good knowledge of a case were surveyed to see if they thought the sentence was inadequate or the judge was ‘out of touch’. 90 per cent said no.
I wonder if it might not be salutary to have juries regularly and publicly record their reaction to the judge’s sentence in each case.