Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rejoice We Have Justice Rejoice

There is much more emphasis on obtaining justice for crimes after they occur and very little emphasis on obtaining justice in everyday things that leads up to crimes especially abuse and bullying. This should raise the question are we more concerned about justice or vengeance. The quick easy answer is to say with conviction that it is justice we seek. A closer look might not indicate this is true. It is important to remember that in order to obtain true justice we need to prevent or minimize these crimes. The most effective way to do that is to study the causes of crime and programs to prevent them. In the future we should rejoice more when we find the cause, so it can be prevented, than when we apply strict punishment. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t send violent criminals to jail of course. In the short term this is the only way to stop them from committing crimes but in the long term it is much more important to address the abuse that leads up to major crimes.

The emotional anger does more to hamper true prevention efforts than it does to help prevent crimes. There are way too many people expressing joy when they convict someone of a serious crime without realizing they are passing up an opportunity to learn from the events and prevent future crimes. Many of these people are also denying some of the most important contributing causes either to protect people they don’t think should be held responsible or to eliminate any consideration of mitigating circumstances. These biases are one of the biggest obstacles that need to be overcome in order to effectively prevent violence.

This is especially bad when it comes to high profile cases. When the media gets a hold of a subject and hypes it up and the people get excited without looking close at the details there is the greatest tendency to jump to the wrong conclusions. This is especially true when they start hyping up how good the victim is or how cruel the perpetrator is. This is clear in the cases of mass murderers where there is an enormous amount of panic then when the mass murder is caught there is an enormous amount of relief. What goes unnoticed by many is all the other issues that are ignored while there is a great panic going on. In this case if you think about it even the worst mass murders commit a small number of murders compared to the amount of lives lost from many other causes. If you look at the coverage about mass murderers when they are caught there as often a big celebration. The cops are often looked at as heroes even if they ran an incompetent investigation and lucked out.

In many cases there is more concern about the appearance of justice than there is in justice itself. This is clearest if you look at the many cases that have proven to be wrongful convictions. The authorities often try to back up convictions even after there is an enormous amount of evidence that they have convicted the wrong person. There seem to be many people in the justice system that arte more concerned about protecting there own reputation and the authority of the system than to make sure they convict the right person. This attitude leads to a corrupt system that only seems credible if you don’t look to closely. The closer you look at some of these cases the less just the system seems. In order to fix this the first thing that needs to happen is that we need to stop pretending that the system is working properly and we need to stop relying on emotional reactions to rush to judgment.

First posted on tripod on 10/23/09

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

Well said.

Sarah Cavanaugh December 13, 2010 12:38 PM

Excellent post Zachery. Most DA's want a conviction and many will do anything to obtain one. I've been reading recently about how many withhold evidence from the defense to get a conviction and even when caught, refuse to give the injured party a new trail. A shame in this age of DNA and other ways to find the truth!

scanner December 13, 2010 01:26 PM

What you read is far more common than most people suspect. There are many cases where they are clearly more concerned about saving face than doing their job. One of them was turned into a true novel, "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham a few years ago.

They often seem to think it makes them look better and unfortunately many people agree.

zacherydtaylor December 13, 2010 01:47 PM

I experienced it firsthand. I can't and never will get over what prosecutors will do-- even when they know they have an innocent defendant. It is evil to want to win at all costs and steal the liberty of the innocent in the process. It's the ugliest thing imaginable. Good for you for writing about it as the vast majority of Americans are lucky enough to be blissfully ignorant of how the "system" really works.

fernsy December 13, 2010 10:37 PM

I was also charged with something that I wasn’t guilty of. This happened a long time ago and they didn’t have any evidence so they dropped it quickly in my case. It was years before I even figured out why I was even charged in the first place since they didn’t have evidence or any reason to believe I did it; I suspect what happened is that someone that was angry with me for something trivial got in trouble with the police and gave them my name as part of his effort to get out of trouble. This is absurd and the charges were relatively minor even if I was convicted but this is the type of thing some small town cops do. There is a strong possibility that the individual in question did it. He was always in trouble and getting out of it and well known in town unlike me.

There are almost certainly many more minor injustices that receive little or no attention. In most cases this is more about politics under the current system than it is about getting the truth.

zacherydtaylor December 15, 2010 09:50 AM

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