The Sentence Critical Thinking Sample
Post verdict of Oscar Pistorius. State v. Oscar Pistorius
Manslaughter is an offence that has its own judgment in every country. It’s always considered under the laws to be unlawful and it leads to a certain sentence once convicted. This same case applies to an amputee Olympian Oscar who was found guilty and was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment after the court found him guilty of manslaughter. Oscar has been one of the athletes who shocked the world by his massive talent of racing with athletes with both feet. Oscar in this case, became a famous man and the talent helped him to access a high class life. Oscar was leading a life like anybody else and was privileged to have a girlfriend. In the case against him, he was accused of committing an atrocity of manslaughter; this was as a result of him shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013. The presiding judge Thokozile Masipa also added a three-year suspension sentence for a firearms charge (News Africa, 21st October 2014). The Oscar Pistorius case is among the highly publicized cases in the world because of the different views that arise from analyzing and understanding the case. The paper will clearly analyze all the possible facts about the case through a number of sources and reach into a conclusion of the matter. The paper will articulate the humanity issues that encompass the case and look for the way forward.
A lot of views over the sentence have been raised, but many believe Justice has prevailed though others feel the judge was too lenient in her sentence. It is clear that mercy was also present. Oscar was originally supposed to serve 10 months in the state prison and serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest. It was later brought to light that due to his condition of having removable legs he was not eligible to receive house arrest as the law does not provide for fixing monitors on his hands which has brought about Trust issues. Self-discipline of the convict will help him as it is a mitigating factor and if he displays good behavior his appeal may just be heard. However, there are instances where one gets acquitted after a call if there is evidence or proof that he or she has shown some change after spending time in prison. Moreover punishment is for purposes of correction and making a better person (Law Thinker, 2014).
Respect for his humanity has to be shown as the argument to him taking off his legs is disrespectful to him because though removable they are they should be taken so. When Reeva died, the community lost a member, and justice would only prevail if the perpetrator of this crime were punished. In modern justice, punishment is not thought of as revenge but a way to restore sanity. The five-year sentence given to Pistorius does provide closure to the Steenkamp family only but also the society, on the side of Pistorius the sentence is not aimed at only punishing the wrong he did it also has an element of mercy looking at the time period given for his conviction (Thompson 2014).
How the case prevailed
The case has brought to light a lot of issues about the correction facilities as the initial stance was that Pistorius would serve 10 months of his sentence in prison and the remainder of the sentence under house arrest. Logically, this will not be possible due to the fact that his legs are removable, and the authorities have said it would not be possible because the law does not provide for placing the monitor on his hand for it is easily removable (News Africa 21 October 2014).
The outcome of good behavior
Sentence length can be reduced due to good behavior of an inmate. Pistorius is in one of the journals seen playing soccer with another inmate good behavior from him even when he according to (http://www.mirror.co.uk/all-about/oscar-pistorius) has received several death threats from fellow prisoners. The justice system has the provision for reduced sentence due to good behavior, and Oscar may opt to be on his best behavior especially when his plea for house arrest seems to be a long shot.
The articles about his ineligibility to receive house arrest have shown one thing about how the world has to help the physically challenged. Oscar would have been granted house arrest through competence defense but though this maybe be so, justice has been served to an extent that even the International Paralympics Committee will not allow the leg amputee sprinter to compete in events until 2019 (The Guardian 2014).In the whole procedure of the case the truth brought out to the public through the different media cases has been one that has followed the case closely, the fact that Oscar is a public figure might have brought his situations into the limelight, but it did not overall affect the outcome of the case.
Justice has prevailed in the case above though many may think it’s been perverted. This can be seen as per Section 3A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 which sets out the purposes for which a penalty may be imposed, including Sec 3A(b): “to prevent crime by deterring the offender and other persons from committing similar offences (Section 3A(b))”; and sec 3A(f) “to denounce the conduct of the offender.” From the case at hand, we see that by the fact that Oscar though being a public figure was sentenced with view of punishing him, thus justice has prevailed and through his conviction the deceased’s family can find some closure as regards the killing of their daughter. In every case, the Court has been concerned to emphasize the need to impose a sentence which not only punishes the offender but will deter others from a similar course of action (Torchia 2014).
The appeal by the prosecution has brought about some question as to whether the judge’s reliance on facts would be subject to Section 319 which provides that “A person who does any act, or makes any omission, intending in any way to pervert the course of justice, is liable to imprisonment for 14 years”(Public Justice Offences Section. Crime Act, Sec 319). This is inapplicable to the case of Judge Thokozile Masipa because judges have in them, powers that allow them to make judgments on their experience and intuition.
As the family of the Steenkamp may feel a murder sentence would be a more fitting punishment the judge has in her powers to see to it that the judgment is not made based on revenge but to ensure that Oscar not only serves as an example to others but also uses this sentence as a correction measure for Oscar. Furthermore the action of the Steenkamp family to seek another verdict from the Supreme Court is well within their rights, and this may also change how Oscar may be viewed. The legal system of South Africa has been condemned by another British lady who feels the system has failed both her daughter (Lauren) and Reeva due to the seemingly lenient sentences being handed down (Public justice offences).
Judge Thokozile Masipa also said: "It would be a sad day for this country if an impression were to be created that there was one law for the poor and disadvantaged, and another for the rich and famous." This was said in light that people have said had it been someone poor the sentence would have been much heavier; she though alluded to the fact that Oscar’s contribution to the country’s perception of the disabled could not be overlook and Pistorius had made an enormous contribution to society, in his charity work. All in all, though all this can be said about Pistorius the judge did not in any way pervert the judgment stood as it would have had it been someone else and not the Athlete (Culley 2014).
Criticism on the judgment
The judgment made by the judge is subject to people's criticisms a look from the neutral point would see that in the search for justice to be served and the correction of a wrong the matter was handled in the right manner. The judge did not only sentence Oscar for the killing of Reeva but also added a three-year suspended term which was for unlawfully firing of a gun in a restaurant which was an entirely separate incident. In the quest for justice, the judge did what was probably and just for two parties involved in the case.
Oscar was a celebrated athlete in South Africa for a lot of his achievements which include being the first disabled athlete to compete in the able-bodied race but he was still treated with the same level of courtesy and justice that applies to everyone. The case is still to be heard as the prosecution has appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which is set to seat and argue the matter sometime this year. The outcome of this case is yet to be heard by the Supreme Court but as it stands the judgment set by Judge Thokozile Masipa still stands and the likely would of that sentence being revoked anytime soon is not very certain. As it stands the parties should accept that the judgment that has been made is favorable for both sides because even if Oscar were to be given a fifteen year sentence and charged with Murder it would still not bring Reeva back to life but either way justice has prevailed.
Culley G. (2014) British mum claims daughter's killing in South Africa has chilling echoes of Oscar Pistorius case. Retrieved from:http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/british-mum-claims-daughters-killing-455116
Law Thinker (2014) South Africa: OSCAR PISTORIUS FULL JUDGMENT. Retrieved from: http://thelawthinker.com/south-africa-oscar-pistorius-full-judgement-pdf/
Oscar Pistorius given five years for Reeva Steenkamp death. BBC News Africa. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29700457 ,21 October 2014 Last updated at 14:44 GMT
Public justice offences. Judicial Commission of New South Wales. Retrieved from: http://www.judcom.nsw.gov.au/publications/benchbks/sentencing/public_justice_offences.html
Robson S. (2015) Oscar Pistorius: Athlete suffers blow in latest bid to block state's murder conviction appeal. The Mirror. Retrieved from: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/oscar-pistorius-athlete-suffers-blow-5324747
The Guardian (2014) Oscar Pistorius: judge allows state to appeal - as it happened. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2014/dec/10/oscar-pistorius-judge-appeal-murder-acquittal-live
Tompson G. (2014) Oscar Pistorius 'unlikely to compete again' after jail term. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/disability-sport/29701616
Torchia C. (2014) Judge: Prosecuters Can Appeal Pistorius Verdict. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/oscar-pistorius/