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Political Philosophy > The Purpose of a Justice System

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message 1: by Tim (new)

Tim | 86 comments Mod
Something Maureen said in another topic, "When Faith Kills", interested me and i feel it is very much worth its own thread, was,

"the justice system is set up to protect it's citizens from physical harm"

Im certainly not picking on Maureen here but i think that is perhaps a fairly common thought. It is one that i would disagree with however.

I think that the justice system is set up to punish people.

No law can protect someone from harm. Only we ourselves can do our best to protect ourselves from harm.

Like the example i posted in another thread about a young woman being beaten to death by a gang of boys who basically did it for fun... no justice system in the world protected or could have protected her from that attack. All it can do is somehow seek to bring the boys to "justice", whatever that is... which is another big topic, what is justice?

I would rather accept that life has its risks and be able to protect myself fully (be allowed the right to bear arms and hidden weapons at that, which i currently am not at all), and to know that then i am in a better position to prevent or minimise such an attack. As it is we are supposed to rely upon the police to only have the right to bear arms. Clearly they are not going to be around when one needs them. I would then hope that the justice system enables me/others to seek damages from those that seek harm upon me or others.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

not feeling picked on
you're mostly right
the justice system is mostly one of redress however there is an argument for the justice system as deterrent
and the family law system is supposedly more geared towards rehabilitation and my understanding quite different in it's judgements and jurisdiction, for instance, foster care and supervisory care by the state is charged with ensuring the welfare of the state's children and can remove them from their home and dictate treatment plans for parents etc.
so different systems have quite different goals and methods
i'm still picking away at your other threads and will see what someone else adds here before i say more


message 3: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) In the United States, the justice system exists neither to protect people nor punish them. It exists to enforce whatever laws are on the books.

But the laws often endanger people, as is the case with our gun laws, or they allow some people to escape punishment while meting out severe punishment to others, due to the uneven nature of legal representation here.

It's up to our legislatures and courts to try to make laws more consistent with some commonly accepted sense of justice. The result is a rather mixed bag.


message 4: by Allie (new)

Allie I agree with Tim to a certain extent, that justice systems are set up to punish people, but I see this as a byproduct or aspect of what the intention behind them is.

I think justice systems exist to institute and preserve norms and boundaries for behaviour and conduct which may at times, or from some angles, look the same as a system designed to punish people. Punishing people is more a mechanism by which to enforce laws and provide examples as to what is acceptable and desirable conduct as imagined by the society. Or, social and political institutions which create the 'rules' and requirements of conduct for living in a society. In this way, I agree that there are components of deterrent, too.


message 5: by Riley (new)

Riley (booksarecool) The justice system is, in a way, set up to prevent wrong-doing, but it hardly achieves it. For example, a mother spanks her child for hitting his brother. That is certainly sending mixed signals. "It's okay for you to hit me, but not for me to hit him?" Same thing with the justice system. A man kills another man. For 'justice' that man is executed. Although I can see where they are coming from. Let me be small minded for a moment.
By executing that man, they are sending the world a message. "Don't kill people, or you'll be punished."
It is a form of learning from other's mistakes instead of your own. So the child's younger brother whom he hit knows not to hit, or else his mother will spank him.
Do you see what I am saying? It's a bit confusing, but the unknown world outside my box is confusing.


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