Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Justice

From Dictionary.com:

1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.

Those of you who know me also know that I all but refuse to enter debates about three things: politics, religion, and legalizing any kind of drug. I just won’t do it. The reasons are many, but partially because it’s really nobody’s business what I think or believe on those subjects, and mainly because those “discussions” don’t go more than ten minutes without someone flying off the handle. I have much better things to do with my day than listen to some angry nobody call President Obama the Antichrist, or tell me that anyone who doesn’t believe just exactly the way they do is going to burn for eternity once they die.

However, “justice” is a weird word. It can be woven into all three of those categories and yet, probably because I happen to be very interested in the justice system, I usually don’t mind debating or discussing it. If there is anything that can get me fired up more than the previously mentioned topics, it’s a scumbag criminal getting a light sentence or an innocent man receiving time of any kind. Both are tragedies that should never occur but unfortunately, both happen every day, somewhere.

We all know that the “justice system” is flawed and that there are far too many criminals on the dockets to actually deal with them fairly. That doesn’t, however, lessen the blow when such a large percentage of felonies are plea-bargained down to nothing more than citations and probation is granted. While some may consider themselves lucky to get off with a good scare and never break the law again, I imagine they aren’t the majority. No, the lesson usually learned is that it’s okay to continue being a small-time, scumbag criminal because the punishment is either so light as to not be noticed, or not there at all. It’s disgusting.

The flip to that coin, of course, are law-abiding citizens that either find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time or get caught up in the system through other means. Take the guy who finds someone hurting a family member, real bad, or finds a strange man in his house at three in the morning and shoots him. Although that individual surely has a strong defensive case, he is likely still going to do some jail time. That’s just the name of the game. I personally don’t think it’s “just” for a person defending their own life or the life of another to do one solitary second behind bars, but that’s the way it goes. Heck, even a police officer involved in a shooting has to go through a whole big process afterward.

Of course, when I say “justice” I’m not only talking about junkies, murderers and small-time criminals who’ll steal from you and fence the goods for a small profit. No, it goes right on up the line. King-pin drug dealers who get pinched are constantly making “deals” with law enforcement so that they stay out of the Big House. Offering information, rolling over on competing criminals, and even donating large amounts of money to police organizations – it’s all done on a regular basis.

So, what is the idea behind that? Well, the question is a simple one: Would we, as a society, rather have a small-time moron entering houses at night and putting lives at risk, or would we rather let the big fish keep swimming because the war on drugs won’t end anyhow? The real top-dogs rarely get into gunfights in the streets of Los Angeles. They have too much at stake. It’s the small-time and midline dealers and junkies that lose control, and so law enforcement, as a general rule, will let the king-pins keep their operations as long as we get the dangerous criminals off the streets. Justice is served.

Justice, ladies and gentleman, is a winding, rocky road that few of us actually understand well. Like any political, religious or drug-legalizing conversation, none of us really have all the information and are 100% sure about any of it, and so it’s best just left alone. If the smartest people in the world can’t figure politics or the justice system out, I sure as hell don’t know how the rest of us can be experts. What I *do* know, is that when the news tells me about a family of five killed by a drunk driver who has had four prior incidents, I wonder if justice is ever really served.


Karen B said...

I so agree and have had, do have, these same thoughts! For many, too many, there never seems to be justice. Nothing burns my behind more than seeing someone get a slap on the wrist, like a repeat offender, while someone who has never committed a crime in their life go to jail for life because they had a smidgeon of some illegal drug on their person. My dad says, "Just take 'em out back and shoot 'em. Save the taxpayers money." lol

Christina said...

I agree on the nobodies arguing about religion and politics. I try to stay out of it but do find my way in once in a while. I am one of those people that ends up taking things personally when people can't see those things that seem so clear to me.

Justice depends largely upon how much money the criminal has. Explains a lot actually.

Awesome post, D.

SuburbanWifeLife.com said...

Personally, I believe that just does not necessarily mean fair and I pretty much live my life with that in mind. nice article.

popping in from a-z challenge

SuburbanWifeLife.com said...

Personally, I believe that just does not necessarily mean fair and I pretty much live my life with that in mind. nice article.

popping in from a-z challenge

Marie Anne said...

Overcrowded prisons and money to keep the inhabitants are two things that probably have a lot to do with 'minor' criminals getting a pass (I won't bring up corruption).

If prison life was tougher and harsh sentences were carried out, it might might be more of a deterrent to crime. Why should anyone care about getting caught if there's no real punishment? So you end up in the pokey for a bit, big deal. You have access to amenities that I probably don't as a taxpayer who served her country for more than 21 yrs who paid her dues in more ways than one.

James said...

Hypocrates wrote the only law we need: Do no harm.

Anonymous said...

Your last sentence summed up my attitude perfectly. Well done.

My “J” post is right here: http://www.word-nerd-speaks.com/2011/04/jackwagon.html

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I just noticed the comment above mine. James, you rock!

Langley said...

So very true, you hit the nail on the head. Excellent and thought provoking post.

I’m A-Z Blogging on Langley Writes about Writing and Langley’s Rich and Random Life