I am just an ordinary lay person without any detailed knowledge of the justice system and the law, but it seems pretty obvious that something is wrong. Why, when a sentence is passed, is it subject to reduction? Why can't three years mean three years, life mean life, six months mean six months, or any term set be exactly that term?
For minor and first time offenders we have community service and other means of re-education against crime, but the severity of a prison sentence no longer carries the weight of being deprived of a place in society, of punishment of a severity that deters criminal activity. In fact, if media stories are to be believed, prison life is a rough community that thrives on its own level as an alternative to the hard realities of the outside world. Certainly, institutions should provide a humane environment and one of re-education where possible, in order to salvage those who have fallen into crime unwittingly, or through peer pressure or deficiencies in their social environment. Yet even to these, a knowledge of set terms of punishment that are not flexible to the whims of do-gooders, might just save a few going off the rails in the first place.
Fixed term sentences would also allow more attention to be placed on those being released truly being fit for release and then followed up in a way that actually helps them to re-establish their place in a lawful society. Prisoners should be given the chance to show that they have genuinely reformed, that they are capable of being an asset to society, of working and living alongside the rest of us without undue recrimination. We all want a better society, but the swing of the pendulum seems to have swept too far to the side of leniency and no longer balances punishment with correction, no longer provides an effective deterrent.
Crime will never be eliminated. Many crimes are carried out without thought of being caught and punished, maybe masked by anger and frustration, drugs and alcohol and certainly lack of foresight. But for those who are aware of the punishment fitting the crime, perhaps a tougher approach will act more favourably for both potential offender and the intended victim. And that can only be good for all of us.