The Importance of Justice in Society P.B. Middelton.
Author: Al-Hassar, Abdullah.
One component of the definition of justice is the final outcome of the process of the law, whereby justice is distributed by the State. According to this definition, justice is the mechanical process of the structure of law – set in place and agreed to by the people of the State. Another definition is concerned with the value inherent in ‘just’ behavior. One distinction between these two definitions is the difference between an individual viewpoint and the larger view of the society. Either view incorporates the concept of moral judgment; ‘good’ as opposed to ‘bad.’
Man has recognized the importance of justice in his society since the earliest of times. In order to serve justice, there has to be a law to settle differences among the people of the state. The history of law in relation to society reveals that humanity’s earliest efforts at lawmaking were prompted by the basic desire of self-preservation. Although engulfed by a society that necessitated such combinations as clans and tribes for protection, as well as for social and economic advancement, the nature of the individual led to the development of certain expressed general rights with regard to person and property1. Generally, these unwritten rules governing social and economic interaction recognized the right to defend oneself from injury as well as to enjoy property without outside interference. While sufficient for primitive societies, unwritten rules of social control were ineffective in a rapidly developing society. So, an effort was made to clarify them so that all the people would know their definitions, limits, and applications.
After reading Fuller’s Speluncean Explorers fictional case and seeing the conflict between the judges who made up Chief Justice Truepenny’s court, one would ask himself, are there fixed principles of justice that transcend time, place, and circumstances? Is justice absolute or relative? Given the extreme situation the perpetrators where in, are they innocent or guilty? I found Judge Keen was the only judge implementing the criminal justice system as it should be. The other judge’s involvement in the case was like this: Truepenny cannot handle it; Foster is saying since they were in a “state of nature” then they should be dismissed; Tatting is confused and too emotionally involved; and Handy wants the masses to react to the case and make a circus out of it. This fictional case shows the divergent views of judges who work under the same judicial system and have different philosophical approaches to capital punishment, which ,in this case, is death. The case truly represents the daily struggle in the American legal system which is really an adversarial system of law. To refer to a justice system as a system, there must be fixed principles of justice which all the officers of the law must follow. Without due process, the system of justice would lack fairness and would fail to represent society’s judgment as to an individual’s guilt or innocence.2
The morality of capital punishment causes heated debate whenever there is an execution. Many people believe that the death sentence discourages those who might commit horrible crimes. To these people, since life is precious, the death penalty helps to affirm this fact. Others believe a civilized society has no right to put another person to death, especially when there is a lack of strong evidence. For example, Gary Graham also known by his adapted African name (Shaka Sankofa) was killed despite the lack of physical evidence linking him to the crime scene. The whole case against Gary depended on the testimony of a single eyewitness. The question is, has justice been done or not? Most of the industrialized world has abolished the death sentence, because they consider it barbaric. Barbaric or not, the law of the land must be followed even if we do not like the death penalty. The officers of the law must always avoid errors of sentencing based on skin color, poverty, class, and political gain. If we create a society in which justice is not tolerated, and racism at play then more incidents of state killing will continue and the law of jungle will take place.
Poverty is the mother of all crimes in any society. One of the roots causing violence is poverty; where there is a high percentage of violent crime; there is also a high percentage of poverty, unemployment, lack of affordable health care, education, etc.
As economic conditions in a society deteriorate, it is not surprising to see individual involvement in crimes on the rise. Poor people tend to have higher crime rates, poorer work habits, weaker family organizations, and more substance abuse. Since poverty is unlikely to be self-correcting, the state has to be involved in correcting this problem. Unfortunately, in modern societies, the poor “specially the minorities of different color or class” are considered undesirable citizens, and the force of the law acting on behalf of society to protect the majority would try its best to put them in jail or kill them. For example, New York City was racked a year ago by a heinous crime involving the police department and a Guinean man. The white police officers fired 41 bullets (of which 19 found their mark) on the unarmed Guinean, Amadou Diallo. The policemen were acquitted because they thought Diallo, who resembles King Shaka Zulu of the Amzolo (so to speak), was pointing a spear at them. They found out after the comprehensive investigation of the shooting, that the spear was only his tongue coming out of his mouth while he was singing and dancing on his doorstep. It is sad to see a young man who left his country and was working hard to gain money to finish his education get killed in a moment of hatred. As a result of this killing in New York, it has been assumed that anyone not white and middle-class, must fear for his/her safety. Thanks to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, he made the Arab world (the world of fear, ruthlessness, interrogation, torture, unjust, detention, surveillance, spying, false accusation, and cruelty) feels like justice paradise.
It is a fact of life to see conflict of interest in our daily life as a situation between an employee and his boss, a public official and a citizen. Our concern here is with the person who acts in an official capacity and has certain official responsibilities, by which he acquires obligations to clients, private citizens, or others. It is expected from professionals, especially those who serve the public, to put the welfare of the organization before their personal benefits. For example, if a politician fails to exercise reasonable care toward the people who elected him or violates the public trust, then the public has the legal capacity to hold him liable for conflict of interest. It may be very difficult to define the codes of moral conduct in modern society where conflict of interest happens.3 Conflict of interest, in its basics, varies surprisingly big from ancient society to modern, and from country to country throughout the world today. For example, in former times during the days of the Babylonian Hammurabi (1700 B.C), if a government official went on national TV (for example) and lied in front of millions of his people about cheating on his wife and was later found guilty, his tongue would be cut and his gentiles would be crushed. However, in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” the person would go free.
In order for any society to live in harmony and peace, justice must be distributed equally to all members of society. Judicial and police officers must not use the law as a shield to insulate their racism, hatred, and political gain. In the eye of the law, justice must not differentiate between the poor and rich, the weak and the strong. To fight poverty the state should spend more money on education, employment, and child welfare. The state must give the individual his rightful place of dignity as a free man equal to all his fellow men where he shall have the right to live under a rule of law based on a sense of obligation. In that society, respect for law must be the cohesive force holding it together and not mere obedience based on surrender to the weapons of state power
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Swift, Jonatham. The Complete Works. Oxford Univesity Press, New York, 1987.
Smith, Alexander B. Crime and Justice in a Mass Society. Xerox College Publication,
Waldron, Ronald J. The Criminal Justice System: an introduction. Houghton Mifflin,