A fair justice system can only work if given the power; if a person (and all the people) relinquish any personal power to allow the system and its components to make and govern the decisions involving criminal behaviour and punishment. When any man decides to take this power into his own hands, no matter the circumstance, he is causing the system to fail and, by example, promoting criminal behaviour against it.
The simple fact that someone felt the need to establish a system to regulate criminal justice – and enough people agreed that it came into existence – seems indicative to me that a large percentage of people or perhaps simply a large percentage of those with any authority, recognize that in order for justice to be fair, it must be impartial. If someone cared enough to voice that perhaps “an eye for an eye” isn’t always the best answer or that perhaps letting someone who was a victim, either directly or indirectly, of an action decide or even mete out the punishment might be unfair to the person who committed the offense, then perhaps there is good reason to care. I think there is.
At this point, it feels appropriate to clarify that a fair justice system, in my mind, is fair not only to the victim but also the criminal. Should a child caught stealing a candy bar be put to death? Should a first time offense be considered as grave as a repeat offense? Should a youth be punished in the same manner as an adult?
I believe that a fair justice system needs to take into consideration all the factors surrounding a situation and decide on punishment to the criminal or retribution to the victim accordingly. A fair decision cannot be made “by the book” because no crime is the same and, undoubtedly, the creativity (or insanity) of the human mind will find a way to create new or elaborate upon old crimes in new and horrific ways.
So somebody agreed and these opinions became law; some of them even were worked into the building blocks of our country in the way The US Constitution. The justice system, which I’m sure was never simple, was cemented as a complex machine made up of innumerable parts including but not limited to law enforcement, the penile system and the judiciary branch which all deal with punishing criminals for the crimes they commit and – in some senses – preventing crime before it happens, correcting criminal behaviour after the fact and assisting victims of crime.
Due process has also become an integral part of this system ensuring that the rights of even someone who commits are crime are respected. But in order for any part of this machine to function correctly, it must be assisted by any number of other correctly functioning parts.
A prison cannot house a criminal if a judge does not make a sentence and a judge cannot sentence a criminal without a jury’s decision that a criminal is guilty which cannot occur if the criminal is not apprehended by law enforcement and brought to trial. So on and so forth.
And even if all of these parts are functioning perfectly, the system itself is still not perfect because although the system may function as a machine, its key components are human beings, mostly like our selves. Thus, the justice system will always be “victim” to individual and collective emotions, views, opinions and ethics or morals – all of which are ever changing and so shall be the justice system. This, however, is not always a negative thing; as times and crimes change, so must the way with which we deal with crimes and the criminals and victims involved.
And the best way to deal with them is in a professional manner: impartial and polite. The easiest way to do this is to be impartial, to be outside the influence of the crime, the criminal or the victims. This is nearly impossible. Even someone who is not affected by something will have thoughts on it, opinions about it and feelings regarding it. This is to be expected.
What makes the justice system work is that those within it abide by certain rules. They must recognize a behavioural (and perhaps ethical code) which is even more strict than that to which their non-judicial peers must adhere. They must walk on egg shells and keep their emotions in check, no matter how strong they may be.
Those in the justice system are in a position of authority and, generally, a position which is respect by most: friends, family, community and country. It is their responsibility, even more so than anyone else’s, that the justice system is allowed to function smoothly and, ideally, we would be able to depend upon these people to be the last people who would work against this system.
But they do. Law enforcement agents such as security and police officers will cause unwarranted harm to criminals even after they are in custody. Members of the supposedly impartial jury will vote one way or another because of race, religious or sexual orientation without even listening to the case at hand. Prison wardens and guards will deny inmates even the necessary food and water to survive.
All of this and happens and the effect is much larger than simply a broken bone or hungry stomach: the detrimental effect of this is actually the cutting down of the effectiveness of the justice system. And it should not be tolerated. In a position of authority, one who acts in such a manner is as guilty of the criminal than whom they regard themselves better. Their actions should be regarded carefully and whether jury member, prison guard or police officer, just punishment should be exacted.
In these positions, one must hold his head high and be the bigger man, regardless of whether the criminal hurt your friends or family or a peer in the work force. Upon entering the justice field, you have an obligation to hold yourself to higher standards than the rest of the population and failure to do so cannot be excusable.
In order for the system to work, we must trust the system; we cannot take justice into our own hands without reducing the overall effectiveness of the justice system which is supposed to make our country a safer, more productive place and those involved with the justice system are especially liable for actions which may work against it.