Questions about Justice
Is our form of Justice really justice?
This is once more my ‘common sense’ science; asking questions driven by some personal thinking about a subject. I’ve been asking these questions for years. I see some headway being made in answering some. But as a whole, justice deeply needs some innovative clear minded thinking. I hope this helps.
Is having a ‘attacker’ and a ‘defender’ in front of a judge and or jury the best way to unfold the truth?
This method seems very natural. That’s how it started deep in history. A farmer comes to the chief to complain about his neighbour and both get heard. And then the chief decides. Yet in modern times we have so many added complexities and circumstances, while Justice looks so very much like Roman times. Class justice is back. The one that can put the most money, time and effort into the case wins way too often. What other ways can we imagine to unfold the truth? I understand the police often has a tunnel vision, at times may even tamper with the evidence to make sure the ‘right’ one gets caught. Apparently 10–25% of prisoners is innocent (varying per country and justice systems). Deep research and testing of other ways, should have way more importance in law schools.
One of the development out of this question is mediation in light cases. Because you don’t want to just announce and ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’ in tricky cases between neighbours. Their relationship after the case matters as well.
Since people are all different, should the law also not be different for all?
Those who can afford lawyers, accountants and such will minimize their taxes and those who are bad at paperwork often end up paying too much, read often the people who are already poor, or artists. In Finland people with more income, pay higher fines when they break traffic rules. That makes more sense to me. The higher your position, the harsher the law should be, as a: you probably know the law better and b: you should be an example to others.
Yet how to rank, categorize people then? In a just way? If you can’t answer this question clearly, then you know that true justice is much harder than comparing actions to rules and then judging according to the rules about rule breaking. It needs to understand people on a personal level, to do true justice, beyond just blindly applying rules.
How can we grow beyond ritual revenge and serve society too?
Let’s go back to the village and the case of the two conflicted neighbours. The chief would even go beyond mediation. He would also consider long term effects of his decision for the whole village, and seek to improve relationships all around. In certain villages in Africa when someone commits a crime, the judge will even ask the village, why this person thought he needed to commit this crime and what the village could have done to prevent it. In modern society we’ve too often grown little beyond ritual revenge. So one addition to the question above would be, how to include the impact on society as a whole in the case? We have to wonder about this, because prison is a western invention. Many societies did without them. What were their best ways to deal with crime without the prison ‘solution’? What can we learn from them?
We see that in countries like Norway and the Netherlands where much thought and regulation is put into return to society after sentencing crime dwindles and prisons get closed. We see that in countries where people call out for harsh justice against crime, life gets harsher and prison populations grow. And that’s not even mentioning the corporate prison system of the USA, which has become a modern slavery system, pretending to be justice. Which leads to the next question..
Can we trust Justice to be represented by the law?
Our souls can feel crimes done to others. We can cry out about it, but, hey, we see officers uphold the law as written. Think here about chasing people of property they’ve lived on for ages, but no someone else has acquired property rights. Think children ripped from their parents across the US borders. Think the aforementioned corporate prison system in the USA, where there’s even pressure on judges and police to fill up the prisons. Wtf? Etc.
Those that determine the law, thus not always have the best intentions, let alone get things right. Political pressure, financial interests, bias among ruling classes all determine how the law is formulated. Mostly laws make sense. Yet we see more and more people seeking to influence the written laws to advance their interests and or ideas of society. And we also see that some perhaps aren’t even interested in solving crime for real. Some will even in the face of evidence of other ways diminish crime better, keep shouting for harsher laws, because it gets votes. Thus fear rules over sanity.
Then we expect always hard evidence, so taking precautions against slow pollutions like Roundup, that may cause cancer, may impact dwindling of bees and insects around the world, is very very hard. Financial interests rule over societal worries. What can we do about this?
We see that taking decisions in court according to the spirit of the law, like in the Netherlands, has some benefits over justice according the letter of the law, like in the USA. Justice according the letter of the law makes great income for lawyers. It has paranoia around precisely formulated contracts grow a whole industry. And it grows distrust in society as a whole.
So how can we do justice to what our souls, not our biases, feel about injustice? How can we protect the weak better from those that have the power to even change laws to their interests? If these questions aren’t at the forefront of politicians, judges and law makers, then trust in the law and government will dwindle. Because then the law doesn’t represent the people. The recent change in the USA for the essential mission of the police says it all. It went from “to protect and serve” to “enforce the law”. Yes, and read ‘with all force necessary’ after that.
Where are the laws and justice systems protecting our collective future?
Given the pressure by big corporate interests to ‘protect the economy’ we see our laws have a huge painful lack. We need ecological laws, protecting nature from ravaging industries. If people get away with destroying nature for profit and thus endangering our collective future, then you should know, the law isn’t working well enough, yet. How can we get faster more laws in place that make the slow poisoning of millions, as many industries are actually guilty of, a bigger crime than one single murder. How is it possible the worst that can happen now is some fines they often calculated in as a write off? How is it possible that we the general public must worry about our individual behavior (‘Don’t litter’) yet the industries as a whole keep on producing junk goods that destroy the planet large scale? Where is the pressure on them?
Note for law students and law makers: Innovate faster!
I’ve asked these questions to many people within the law and law students. Most sadly say they’re too busy studying the exact laws and regulations. They don’t have the time to wonder about the system around it all. Thus innovation of justice is slow. And in an increasingly complex world, where new systems are build daily, about which no laws have yet been made, we see people smartly misuse these gaps. I understand creation of laws should be slow and considerate. We don’t want wild emotions to become the basis for new laws. But we also want a safe society in a world where change increases almost daily. What can you do to improve it?