Today I received an email that genuinely unsettled me. On the surface it’s seems innocent enough: a plea for all upstanding citizens to sign a petition that would call for a reversal of a gross miscarriage of justice that grants lifelong anonymity to the two children (now adults) who horrendously violated a killed young Jamie Bulger several years ago. Except that this email, so very easy to add a signature and forward, manages to completely miss the point.

Killers are not released early on a whim; it occurs only if it is genuinely believed they have made significant progress and can be reintroduced into society. No one wants them to reoffend and it’s frankly absurd to think that with such rigorous psychiatric evaluation as the boys have undergone, you or the original author of that emotive email are in a better position to decide how they will behave. Criminals are not given immunity on a whim; people appear to be perfectly happy signing this petition while having no understanding of the case in question. The decision to interfere with European Convention of Human Rights Art. 10 right to freedom of speech was a very serious one, as the papers wished to publish up-to-date photographs along with the whereabouts of the boys once they were released. Interference was only justified here because of the “real and strong possibility” of physical harm or death to the boys. While I can understand the mindset of the average, rational person signing the petition, they seem not to appreciate that the very reason for the anonymity injunction was because of the irrationally violent outrage felt by the sort of people who make death threats and produce such a petition. Trust me, they don’t want to know where these boys are just so they can keep away…

As for the bizarre suggestion that these boys are being given a new life in return for taking one away, I would hope no one is shortsighted enough to ignore the fact that these two boys have spent nearly half their lives so far in prison. They have not had and easy time and will live with what they have done for the rest of their lives. If you believe our criminal justice system is at all about rehabilitation, they deserve the chance to attempt to reintegrate into society without having continually to fear for their lives.

So should you come across it, I would urge you not to sign this petition. Unless, of course, you happen to be a stalwart advocate of the barbaric death penalty and would prefer that they have been gassed/hung/electrocuted/shot/fried/fed to the Sarlacc at the age of ten instead.

“Children can do things when they are children that they would never do
in their later life when they had matured and appreciated.”
– Lord Woolf