Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Unjust and stupid

I normally ignore any sort of sports news, but the story of the boxer whose Olympic spot is threatened by past convictions raises some interesting issues.

In 1995, Soulan Pownceby killed his baby. He was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to four years jail. After his release he gained several more assault convictions. However, he since seems to have turned his life around, having kept out of trouble for the past four years and built a career as a boxer.

People are now demanding that Pownceby be kicked off the Olympic team because of his past crimes. This is both unjust and stupid. Unjust because it is continuing to punish him after he has served his sentence, and stupid because such treatment gives criminals no incentive to change their behaviour. After all, if you're going to continue to be punished regardless of whether you continue to offend or not, then you might as well continue offending.

The Prime Minister's suggestion of an apology is helpful, but it should not be necessary. Pownceby has done his time, and paid his debt to society. He should be left alone to get on with his life.