Letter: Legal revenge an affront to victims

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The Independent Online
Sir: Mary Dejevsky ("Americans seek head of public enemy number one", 4 June) courageously describes as "distasteful" the euphoria after the jury's verdicts in the McVeigh trial.

What is more distasteful is the bloodthirsty procedure described in Jack O'Sullivan's article ("Wanted: but dead or alive?", 4 June) whereby survivors and victims' relatives will provide evidence to the jury in support of the death penalty. That they and prosecution lawyers should be planning to use film and photographs of victims (Baylee Almon's "first and only birthday party") is an affront to their memories and presupposes their (ungiven) consent.

The punishment should fit the crime, not the theatrical tricks of lawyers and the revenge sought by understandably distraught (and unobjective) victims and relatives.

We can only hope that Jack Straw will reverse the populist and vindictive trend in judicial proceedings and concentrate on measures which will restore confidence in an efficient and impartial judicial system, where criminals are caught, prosecuted and punished by the state. Victims need compassion and, in certain circumstances, counselling and compensation: they should be neither asked nor allowed to get involved in sentencing.


London W6