7.) Crime and punishment in 20
Volume 2: A Description of the Criminal JusticeSystem (CJS) 1950-1980
What We Always Wanted To Know About Our Criminal Justice System But Were Afraid ToAsk …Sean:
I heard you’re writing a book about the Irish Criminal Justice System? About time. Thestatistics in this country are in an unmerciful mess. I hope you have cleared up the mess?
I hope so, too, but I doubt it. The mess is too deep, too Irish and – which is the samething – too obscurantist.
Give us an example.
Look at Table 216 and you’ll see the incredible mess in which Irish prison statistics werecouched. The Prison system managed to lose hundreds of people every year and no one gave a
. These figures, by the way, were for the benefit of Parliament. TDs never bothered to readthem, did they? And if they didn’t read them, no one else did either. The clergy never believed inquantifying anything, not even their wealth. So, who was going to read them? Even presently themost celebrated and paid members of the community who bothered to write books about theCriminal Justice System had no notion whatsoever of accounting for the system in particular or asa whole. Back in the ‘70s the country at that time, as you know, was full of purple prose aboutHuman Rights and the like, and no one gave a
about counting the number of personshoused in Irish prisons. This was a time, of course, when the nation’s incarcerated children (not tomention the law-abiding school-going children) were abused by the Clergy, the Clergy raneverything, appointed everybody and made sure that no one ever said anything without consultingthem first. And this applied (and applies) to Professors more so than to the fearful rank-and-file.
Well, that’s what I was going to say; for the period 1968 and 1975 -- which is a long timeago. I know how imperative you feel it is that the role of historical understanding in these thingsshould be foremost in any analytical enterprise, but how can we proceed to deal with improving thecomplexity of these things?
I suppose we should understand the nature and the possibilities of Irish society in theseregards. I think it all goes back to where we are socially. I mean the most basic precondition of our existence at this time. – and particularly since Whitaker -- is the ongoing creation of an Irishsecular middle class. It is a process that is not only absolutely necessary, but it is also absolutelyunstoppable. And, as you know, what is necessary cannot be immoral.