A very interesting, but highly contentious, issue reared its ugly head yesterday as Rolf Harris was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault.
What’s extremely contentious about the outcome is that he was charged under the sexual offences Act of 1956, because the offences happened at a time of old legislation. Basically, if he’d have done the same things now he would have received a heftier sentence, because cultural evolution has shifted people’s perspective and tolerance on crimes like paedophilia, with penalties now being severer.
Having had a night’s sleep on this, I don’t think it’s right that someone should receive a shorter sentence that has been matched to the legislative time of the crime(s). It seems clear to me that past crimes should be penalised according to the present legislation (and I mean this generally speaking, not just taking into account Rolf Harris’s situation).
Given that legislative measures and acts of jurisprudence are built on a cultural evolution of the increased wisdom and revisions of human beings over time, I’m of the view that sentencing for any crime should be administered according to the legislation of the time of the trial, not the offence – otherwise it rather undermines the perceived wisdom that went into the revision processes of jurisprudence over time.
My friend Mark made an interesting point; he warned that it could set a dangerous precedent. He says: “If we raised the age of consent to 18 we could then punish all those who had sex at Continue reading