Justice and Punishment are they one and the same. In order for Justice to be done has punishment got to be given? There are three objectives that the current system of justice tries to achieve:
As was discussed in the past two blogs [Just is Complicated | Just is as Complicated], with much arbitration and debate a punishment is given to a person indicted in an undesirable act or crime. In the process of awarding such punishment, the objective of retribution is to some extent met however; it is the objective of deterrence and reformation that this process fails in.
In the previous two blogs I tried to explore the question of Justice with the assumption of either we are born evil or we are born ‘as good’. They both led to interesting outcomes. I now think, after further contemplation that, we are born neither good nor bad. The whole matter is about conflict of interest and intent.
- Interest of an individual vs. Interest of another individual
- Interest of a State vs. Interest of an individual
- Interest of a State vs. Interest of another State
- Interest of a corporate vs. interest of an individual
- Interest of a corporate vs. Interest of another corporate
So on and so forth. It is during this conflict of interest that we seek arbitration of a third party hoping through their unbiased and neutral stand point they might be able to decide whose Interest/Intent appears as most noble and justified. There are some widely accepted moral mores and ethics of human behavior which are to some extent influenced by religion and something that is not easy to be defined in exact terms. These, somewhat tacit, morals and ethics form the base of many law formulations and attempt to resolve conflict of interest or intent.
This could lead to quite a confusing notion of Justice. Taking an extreme example, wars are not illegal. In an armed conflict, killing of opposition’s army personnel is not illegal. However any attempts of killing civilians or torturing captured soldiers is considered a crime. If the moral and ethics drive our idea of justice then, any form of killing should have been illegal, hence war should have been illegal and hence Armed forces should have been illegal and hence the Government that maintains them should have been illegal!
I think what emerges is that in an institutionalized justice system. It comes in only when a conflict of interest is reported, till it is reported and not legislated against, all acts are legal and absolutely moral and ethical. Hence I think retribution is relatively easy (note the word relatively) compared to deterrence or reformation.