There is a biblical injunction that invokes the command of “Justice, Justice shall you pursue”.
In Western Australia, our justice system is grossly under-resourced and grossly over liberated.
At the defensive end we have a police force that struggles to make itself visible, and is seemingly under-resourced to meet the demands that the public have for their safety and security to be protected. It is not the fault of the police themselves, all of whom perform outstanding public service and put themselves at the front line against crime for our benefit. However when it comes to serious matters such as property theft, negligence on the roads, out of control parties and domestic abuse, much of the onus of the reporting and recording of crimes is at the behest of the (often traumatised) victim. If there is any investigative activity or recovery/restitution beyond the production of statistics, then the victim is very fortunate indeed.
At the preventative end of crime we have a judicial system, also overloaded, and constrained by legal fiction and technicalities. The system delivers sentences to convicted criminals that do not provide disincentives to reoffend, that are not punitive, that often both insult victims of crime and make them fearful of future retribution. Jail does not rehabilitate, sentences are short, criminals are returned to the street and often remain a danger to those who abide by the law.
The vast majority of people are honest and respectful of the law and the community. However there are an increasing number of people who are a danger to others, abusers of substances, perpetrators of violence, and thieves. Retailers are losing hard earned margins to shoplifters, people are losing property to burglars, and employers are losing profits to fraud. Even more concerning are the people who lose their health , limbs, and confidence in the trust of others due to physical crime.
Very close to where I live there was a road death last week. A women was killed in a car crash due to a police car engaged in a pursuit at the intersection of Morley and Alexander Drive. The police are wearing the blame for engaging in a high speed chase. Yet the media have not drawn sufficient nexus between the tragic accident, and the circumstances which led to the police chase in the first instance. Everyone feels for the family whose lives have been torn to shreds in an instant. This accident could have been avoided in many ways, but the catalyst for the accident were the actions of the criminal, not the police who were trying to keep us safe. It could have been me in that car or any member of my family. I happened not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I do not blame the police for doing their job, and I am satisfied that they have an ongoing role to chase and apprehend lawbreakers.
There is another example of weak justice that I was astounded to recently see relates to the convicted criminal Brendon O’Connell. This person was sentenced to a 3 year prison term for racial vilification against the Jewish community. Through his trial he showed no remorse, and evidenced that he is indeed a danger to society.
Brendon is currently in prison. Yet from within the environment of his detention, the means still exist for him to perpetrate the very crime he was convicted of. There are a number of websites, facilitated by Brendon himself, that include statements and broadcasts from Brendon, where he continues to repeat the absurd allegations and level the same threats that landed him in prison in the first place.
I have not put a link to the websites concerned as I do not wish to promote any online traffic that would add to the glorification that Brendon seeks. However to demonstrate my point, here is a short transcript from one of the recorded phone conversations of Brendon, speaking from behind bars, which promulgates his hatred and threatening activity:
“I will do anything and everything to reveal what has gone on in these past 15 months.
…They are not little Gods, they are not the Pharisees of old, untouchables, they will be made accountable by the public. And, because, Brendan has had enough, and all you are doing is really annoying me. I don’t go down, I don’t submit to this. If you want me to submit to the law then follow the law.”
This, and many other recordings of a similar nature are online here and now, and can be accessed with ease. Brendon repeats his paranoia about Jewish control, Israeli surveillance, and cites the names of members of the Jewish community that he claims exhort political and financial control, amongst a range of other canards.
It baffles belief that somebody can be removed from society for crimes, that they are then able to continue to commit whilst incarcerated. It is no different to proving drugs to a cannabis addict while in prison. Our justice system is so weak that it cannot prevent Brendon O’Connell, a vexatious (yet, according to the magistrate, sane) criminal from continuing with his crusade, and continuing to reach the community with intimidating threats and lies.
Ultimately this man will be released from prison, and will then pose a risk to everyone. In the meantime, surely our justice system needs to be strengthened to stop this nonsense. Surely Mr O’Connell has forfeited his right to liberty, including making phone calls, as a result of abusing the privilege of open communication outside of the prison environment?
Brendon could of course use his opportunity of being in prison to reflect on his blind and unabated hatred of Jewish people, to rehabilitate himself, and return to society as a tolerant and productive contributor. He has already and obviously demonstrated that he has not changed his mind, and that even whilst serving a sentence for the crime of racial vilification, he continues to offend (both criminally and prejudicially) by placing anti-Semitic remarks into the public domain.
In most countries around the world this would not be tolerated. Sadly, this is just one further example of how Australia’s justice system is simply too weak to afford due respect to the victims of crime.