Having spent the last few days visiting my ancestral grounds of Cork, I've been mulling over the concept of justice. I have no idea what it is? Answers in full, please.
Justice is equivocal to punishment, in many ways; something else I don't really understand. Surely the aim of imprisoning somebody is to stop them from causing harm to themselves, society or other people? If this is the case, why does prison carry such strong connotations with rape? Further, why does this continue in a modern age, in the Western world, where human rights are allegedly paramount? Many argue that this is part of criminals' punishment. What purpose does it serve, other than to cause them further distress and pain, and ensure that any efforts of rehabilitation to society will be thwarted? It seems as though a criminal conviction relegates people to (and I'll use a German term here. Yes, I know, Nazi arguments are cliche, but it seems apt) untermensch. Sub-human. I'm not here to argue that criminals are innocent and should be paraded around the streets, given a key to the city and a warm pat on the back from some aging paternal figure, but their actions do not remove their humanity, as much as some people insist that they do.
As far as I can tell, the existence of imprisonment (I'll ignore fines from the umbrella of 'justice', as they tend to act as reasonable deterrents to minor offenders, and don't impinge on anybody's rights), is to remove somebody who may pose a danger from society, and then to rehabilitate them so that they can enter society and be functional and law-abiding. It is time that the criminologists get stuck in. I know it already happens, but the public need to be aware. Why do people commit crimes? Anders Breivik is an example (albeit a controversial one). Is he just "pure evil", or does he perhaps suffer from a mental health issue or personality disorder. I don't personally know, and of course, any issue is no excuse for his actions, but it should dictate what happens to him. In my opinion, this should be the case for everybody. I believe there to be a cause for every crime, and the cause for every crime should be learnt by the necessary authorities and A) used to rehabilitate the offender if possible and B) used to prevent similar crimes. I won't go on a political rant, but it's no surprise that theft is more prolific in less economically privileged areas.
My final concern comes from justice asserted "for" the loved ones of the offender, or indeed the offender. When a person is vilified by the media or the judiciary system in some sort of twisted 'service' to another person. That is not justice. I do not know what justice is, but if that is justice; justice is merely a more conservative, "morally upright" cousin of hateful revenge. I was watching an interview of the daughter of a murdered woman call for the death penalty for the convicted. The killing of Saddam Hussein. This is not justice. This is retribution and revenge. It is animalistic, emotionally driven and in my opinion, disgusting.
The man who instigates revenge is as guilty as the man he kills in doing so.
Perhaps I'm a naive, bleeding heart liberal. Perhaps I'm glad about it.