Today a youth of 16 was convicted of raping a five-year-old boy. The offence took place eight days after he had been given a three-year community order for an earlier rape of a seven-year-old.
The Guardian says:
This scandal reveals the reasons why it is wrong to involve victims in sentencing.
When sentencing the teenager for the first rape, the other judge is believed to have taken into consideration the views of the victim's family, who forgave him because of their Christian beliefs.
But the three-year community order prompted an appeal by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police.
It is wrong because it brings a random element into the process. The sentence given for the same offence will vary depending upon who the victim happens to be. That must be incompatible with justice.
More fundamentally, it is wrong because it is not the victim's place to decide on the sentence. That sentence is not a piece of vengeance that can be set aside if the victim happens to be particularly forgiving (or foolish or gullible). The sentence is passed on behalf of the whole community.
In today's case the parents of the first little boy had no right to speak for the rest of us.