Canada’s Justice System -Abdication of Responsibility – Part 1.

2 Aug

Most would agree that the purpose of the justice system is 3 fold.

  1. Punish Criminals
  2. Rehabilitate Criminals
  3. Protect Citizens

But few people today understand the meaning of justice or what a Justice System hopes to achieve.

Canada has a Department of Justice. That implies that the department is responsible for maintaining justice in the country through application of the law.

Is justice achievable through the application of law?

Or, is justice a consequence of a society with just laws, enforced judiciously.

Word salad? Let me clarify.

A just society is the result of judicious application of laws. The goal of law is to create a more just society by punishing criminals to reduce unjust acts upon one another.

Justice cannot be achieved by punishment. Justice is achieved by just behaviour. A justice system encourages just behaviour discourages unjust behaviour.

Think about this, law enforcement cannot correct an injustice. If you punch me in the nose and I call the police and you are charged and sent to prison, does that correct the injustice inflicted upon my nose?

The answer is no. It only punishes the culprit. By the time you go to jail, my nose may have healed completely or it may now be permanently crooked. Either way, the damage was done and cannot be reversed.

The punishment could be called just if it was carried out by a just legal system in a just fashion. The legal system can only cause more damage, it can’t correct the damage that was done. This is why the crime must be proven in a court. For a court to hand out punishment to an innocent man would just create further injustice.

It is a common fallacy that the goal of legal punishment is to correct the injustice. It is simply to late for that – what was done is done.

If, instead of bringing the legal system into play, I punched you back, we’d be even. Right? However, disputes left to settle themselves, rarely turn out that way. My punch could land on your chin and knock you out cold. Or, I could hit your eye and I’ve got a broken nose and you’ve got a broken eye socket – which is worse?

A just punishment is a measured response requiring somber deliberation. This is why it is called a justice system – even though it is really only a system of law.

A true Justice System attempts to make members of the society behave in just ways by inflicting punishment on unjust actors. It does not reward just behaviour. It only creates disincentives for people to behave unjustly toward one another.

The hope of a true justice system is that you would never punch me in the nose in the first place.

This post explains my thoughts on Justice in general. In Part 2 of this post, I will bring up actual cases to demonstrate why Canada’s Justice System is failing at its mandate.

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