Pure Poison IconAlan Howe (whose previous dubious polemics on sentencing we’ve dealt with previously) was back in the Herald Sun yesterday trying to defend with utter disingenuousness the Victorian Liberals’ highly distorted and misleading survey on sentencing.

The State Government would’ve indeed been right to ask voters their views on sentencing. Sadly, what it did instead was ask voters their views on completely one-sided and unrealistic scenarios without any context, and then attempt to conflate them with what actually happens in courts when all the evidence is actually heard. And then, in a massive insult to those voters that it misled, it – and its cheerleaders on this subject at the Herald Sun (although who’s cheerleading who here might be the other way around) – then pretended that voters’ answers to those limited questions represented voters’ answers to sentencing decisions generally.

And, as we have repeatedly seen every time the Sentencing Advisory Council actually sits ordinary voters down and puts them through a mock trial where they see all the evidence, if anything voters are actually less punitive than the judiciary.

Which makes it a genuine undemocratic outrage that the Herald Sun and the state Liberals are working so hard to make the gap between the public and the judiciary wider. Judges are already tougher than the public actually wants them to be – and yet these shameless campaigners want to force them to be even tougher. Who wins? It’s not the public, whose actual idea of justice is thereby betrayed. It’s not the public, whose streets become more dangerous as more people are locked up instead of rehabilitated, as funding for actual programs that reduce reoffending is cut in order to fund a massive expansion of prisons, as people who come out of jail are further brutalised instead of reformed. It’s not the public, which has to pay increased taxes for fewer public services in order to fund this expansion of the prison system.

In fact, apart from a few muppets who’ll say anything to sell newspapers, a few shameless and grubby politicians who’ll legislate anything that buys them a few votes, and apart from whichever company it is who’ll end up building and running the new prisons, it’s a lose-lose all round.

I wonder if more of the public being insulted by this rubbish will notice, before it’s too late.

PS is there anything more irksome than Alan’s habit on this subject (he did it in the earlier piece, too) of pretending that his views are necessarily those of the general public at large? “We” and “us” he says, as if he was just speaking for the average Joe, rather than trying to sell him a polished turd.

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