Forget Lawyers & Juries. Make Way For The JusticeBot 1000

An Outlandish But Oddly Appealing Proposal

I’ve been thinking about how complicated the legal system is for minor crimes. I’m not talking about murder or rape or throwing a cat into a ceiling fan. I mean the small stuff, shoplifting, peeing in public, maybe a DUI if you didn’t hit somebody in the process.

You get arrested then you post bail. Then you get a lawyer and, of course, the government has it own lawyers. You all go to court two or three or four or five times. There’s paperwork and all kinds of bills for both the government and you.

By the time you finally plead guilty a year later, you and the government have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours wandering through the bureaucratic wilderness and you’ve almost forgotten what the hell you were in court for in the first place. Your crime is a blurred memory.

Then maybe, at most, they lock you up for a couple of weekends.

All that time. All that money. And how much are you really deterred from doing again what got you in trouble for in the first place? Not much. Hell, what you did and why you did it is almost like a bad dream to you now.

The key to deterring crime is swift punishment.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

When you’re housebreaking a new dog you don’t swat him on the rump a month after he’s pooped on the carpet. No, you rub his nose in it and immediately whap him with the rolled-up newspaper right then and there.

That way he links the bad act with the penalty.

Immediate punishment. Yes, that’s the ticket!

See, that’s how I think we need to deal with low-level crime. Swift (and cheap) justice.

Suppose you get caught driving on a suspended license or shoplifting a Donald Trump Chia Pet head. Bam! You need to get punished right then and there.

If we did that then the next time you’re tempted to stuff a terra cotta likeness of some bozo politician up your skirt you’ll think twice about it.

The current overly-complicated system is wrong, all wrong. Expensive, slow, inefficient, unpredictable, and subject to every human failing and foible.

And it’s not really emotionally fulfilling to the victims either.

We want to see a little more payback here than just you having to waste some time in court. And jail is too expensive for the taxpayers. Did you know that it costs the government about $125 a day to lock somebody up?

A couple of days in jail punishes the taxpayers more than it does the miscreant.

Why should honest citizens have to pay the bill for your crime? Answer me that.

I think that the key to cleaning up the whole mess, cutting the Gordian Knot if you will, is to remove humans from the equation entirely. Well, except for the defendant.

How would this swift justice without jail time work? Good question.

I’m thinking robots and stun guns.

First, the government will make a deal with the Artificial Intelligence gurus at Google to design and build an eminently fair Silicon Judge. No bias. No racism. No political axes to grind. Just pure, emotionless, machine intelligence, which is, of course, the best kind.

I suggest we call it the “JusticeBot 1000.” Once we get all the kinks worked out we can update the original version with the JusticeBot 1100. Do you see how this is all going to work?

No? Fine, I’ll give you an example.

Let’s say that the crack Walmart Security Specialist catches you waltzing out the front door with the purloined Donald Trump Chia Pet head. He calls the local police and they take custody of you, it, and a flash drive containing all the relevant high-tech Walmart video surveillance.

You’re brought to Justice Room at the local police station where they stand you up in front of Mr. JusticeBot 1000. Now it’s your chance to tell your story.

You insert your hand into the convenient slot on the JusticeBot’s torso where your blood pressure, heart rate, and sweat level are measured. High resolution sensors on the JusticeBot’s head chart your pupil dilation and facial muscle activity. Twin microphones measure micro-tremors in your voice. It’s all very, very high tech. The next generation in lie detection.

All of this data is correlated by the JusticeBot’s processors and each statement is assigned a value from 1 (Take This To The Bank) to 10 (Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire).

“I was just wandering down the Notions & Sundries aisle, minding my own business,” you tell the JusticeBot, “when a strange man came up behind me, stuck a gun in my back and ordered me to shove Mr. Trump’s pottery head up my jumper.”

“Well, what else could I do? I prayed he’d let me go once we were outside, but when we cleared the front door the security technician suddenly headed in our direction. I guess the gunman figured that the jig was up and the scoundrel scampered off into the parking lot, leaving me holding the bag, or the head, as it were.”

“I was just a pawn of the real criminal,” you tell the JusticeBot. “And that’s the truth.”

The cop plugs the surveillance-video flash drive into the side of the JusticeBot’s head and nine seconds later it announces its verdict:

Incredibly Guilty

After a thirty-seven second perusal of your birth certificate, school records, criminal history, Twitter posts and Facebook page it’s ready to pronounce your sentence.

Have you ever seen those knife-throwing circus acts? The ones where the beautiful girl has her wrists and ankles clamped to a wooden disk which is then spun while the debonair knife-thrower slips on a blindfold and hurls dagger after dagger at the rotating girl?

Well, this would be a little like that. Your ankles and wrists will be affixed to a padded section of the wall, but it won’t spin. And there are no knives. That’s a plus, right?

Instead the JusticeBot 1000’s telescoping arm extends toward you while it calls out your punishment: “Seven jolts, ten seconds apart.”

“Seven?” you cry. “Oh no. Please. I’ll be good. I’ll never do it again. I promise.”

But it’s too late. The JusticeBot 1000 has spoken.

Its servos whine and a moment later its stun gun presses against your right arm.



“One,” the JusticeBot announces.

The mechanical arm retracts then darts towards your left hip.






“I’ll never do it again! Please!” you scream, but the arm inexorably heads for your clavicle as the little ready light turns from red to green.

Eventually, the JusticeBot calls out: “Seven.”

The manacles retract, and wild-eyed, you totter from the room.

“I’ll bet you’ll never do that again,” the cop tells you with a smirk when he drops you off back at the Walmart parking lot.

And guess what? You won’t. You absolutely won’t.

Oh, sure, some hardened felons will talk big.

They’re be all, “Seven? That’s all you got? Hell, Tinman, I can do seven standing on my head.”

But just wait until those blue sparks start crackling and they’ve got urine running down their legs.

Shoplifting, driving on a suspended license, public intoxication, disturbing the peace, driving under the influence, urinating in public — no fancy lawyers for you! No bail, no fines, no courtrooms, no jail.

Just the JusticeBot 1000 and plenty of good old fashioned made-in-America electricity.

And that’s how we’ll make this country great again.

–David Grace (

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