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No Justice in NZ

Entry 1813, on 2016-09-27 at 20:32:29 (Rating 4, News)

A rich kid beats up a local (female) cop and is only punished with community work. A young rugby player assaults several people and is discharged without conviction. These are two recent cases of violence in New Zealand where a violent offender has basically got away with little or no punishment.

In the first case the cop was punched several times while unconscious and in the second the victim's head was stomped on after he was punched and fell to the ground. These sound like pretty serious assaults yet no significant punishment was judged necessary. And for other, far more minor, crimes people are locked up for significant amounts of time. What's going on here? Is this really the way our "justice" system should work?

Well judging from most of the comments on these two incidents - many of which thought the law is a joke - the legal system (I will call it that because it has little to do with justice) has failed miserably. But should both of the people above have been sentenced to prison instead as many people think?

Well maybe not, but I don't think prison is an appropriate response for the vast majority of crimes, so in my opinion almost no one should go there.

If you think about it the whole thing is absurd...

First, someone does something which is against a set of arbitrary rules which everyone is expected to know (yet no one does). These rules might or might not follow what the majority would regard as natural justice.

Then, the offender might or might not be caught depending on priorities such as the amount of resource the police are using against that particular transgression at the time (something which is generally politically motivated).

If the offender is caught he will receive some judgement based on the opinion of a judge who is probably more out of touch with everyday life than any other person in society. Additionally, if the accused has lots of money he can get a better lawyer and is far more likely to be found innocent.

If found guilty the offender is sentenced based on vague and arcane rules which essentially come back to the opinion of the (out of touch) judge. It will also depend on the time of day, how long it is since the judge had a coffee, the offender's appearance, race, and gender, and many other factors. In some cases the person might avoid any punishment at all depending on the judge's particular interpretation of the rules at the time.

Then, the criminal (because that is now what they are) is most likely sent to a prison where he will stay, at huge cost to the taxpayer, in an environment where he is exposed to some of the worst people in society and will most likely learn attitudes and skills making future crimes more likely.

Finally, the person is released from prison and expected to re-integrate into society, even though having a criminal record makes that almost impossible.

Where did we ever get the idea that this could ever be a good system?

Maybe it is like most of the other systems our society has where they are clearly inadequate but since we have evolved with them over hundreds of years we have just got used to them and are too timid to try anything which might be better. These systems might include: parliament, courts, local government, banks, financial institutions, etc. Well OK, let's be honest here - it includes everything!

So, unlike most people, I am not saying these two thugs should have been locked up in prison like others who have done far lesser crimes. I am saying that they shouldn't have been locked up, but neither should the people who did the lesser crimes, and neither should many who did worse crimes too.

Real crimes (and by that I mean stuff like theft from individuals or violence, which all reasonable people agree is bad) are committed by people with anti-social tendencies. They might be so poor they need to steal to survive, they might have psychological issues as a result of being from a violent family, they might have drug dependencies, or they might have attitude issues because they belong to some sort of elite group (like the ultra-rich or elite sports-people).

In every case part of the blame belongs with the individual and part with the person's circumstances, many of which are beyond their control. So having a "lock them up" attitude is neither fair nor effective. Why not get psychological appraisals of all offenders and base a program of rehabilitation on that? If the person is beyond redemption then prison might be appropriate, but I suspect in most cases it wouldn't be.

This is beginning to sound like another part of my program to revolutionise society with rational decision making: get rid of the judges and bring in the trained psychologists. But it's not really the judges who are the problem, or the law makers, or even the law breakers. It's the system.

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Comment 1 (4536) by Mike C on 2016-10-09 at 22:08:35:

Correct Owen. The system seriously sucks.
Been there and survived but there are issues that I doubt will be solved anytime soon!

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Comment 2 (4537) by OJB on 2016-10-10 at 09:07:25:

I don't think we can expect perfection, but I seem to hear more bad things about our so-called justice system than good. If you are the "Mike C" I think you are then I know you are definitely a victim!

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Comment 3 (4538) by Mike C on 2016-10-10 at 23:01:54:

Yep, that's me. I miss working with intelligent people. Oh well, shit happens aye.
I just need to suck it up and move on.

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Comment 4 (4539) by OJB on 2016-10-11 at 09:46:02:

Yes, shit does happen and sometimes there's not much that can be done about it. The hard thing is to know which battles to fight and when it's better just to move on. Good catching up with you again anyway.

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