Dilemma of Justice
The test of time or the test of morals?
Let me ask you a question: What should be the punishment for a thief caught stealing groceries?
Does the punishment depend upon their reasons for committing the crime? Should they be pardoned?
That adds up to 3 questions, I know. Before answering these questions, let’s briefly discuss how the justice system works worldwide.
Justice across the globe
For western nations and most of the democratic world, the criminal justice system consists of courts, police enforcement and lawyers. The laws and punishments are constantly being drafted, challenged and changed. Their argument is based on the statement that justice is subjective and it can vary from the time, person, culture and public opinion.
The rest of the world (excluding tribal societies) believes in a theocratic or religious form of justice. Their justice is generally fixed and based on a sacred text like the Bible, the Torah or the Quran. They believe that justice is objective, based on ethics and does not change with culture or time period.
We notice a stark difference of opinion between these two forms of systems. One claims that justice is subjective while the other believes it is objective.
The punishments imposed on criminals range from financial penalties to incarceration or jail time. It can also get less or more serious depending on the nature of the crime. For example, India is one of the few nations that charges capital punishment for the most heinous crimes.
Ethics and Morality
Morality plays a major role in defining a person’s instinct for justice. If the criminal is related or known to the judge, it can potentially harm the authenticity of the punishment.
As the crime has affected the victim the most, they can argue their case even if the general opinion holds that justice was done.
While the individual psyche may call for a variety of punishments; they can only be called justice if they are consistent across the perpetrators.
Here’s a brief rundown of the things we discussed: What the dilemma of justice is, how the justice system works around the world and the role of ethics in justice.
Getting back to our questions, we can safely say that the penalty for a certain crime can only be called justice if it is charged exactly the same for all criminals. This means that the reason behind the crime generally becomes minuscule and does not affect the punishment.
Also, the pardoning and early release of a criminal can be questioned by the victims as well as the society at large if the crime has larger repercussions.
As complex as the idea of justice is, it is next to impossible to cover everything in a short article like this one. We have skimmed the role of politics, the appointment of judges and several other hot topics to name a few.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of justice and learned a few things as I have while writing this blog. Cheers!