Has the Law Supplanted Justice?
One should never confuse Law with Justice. The law is carved in stone while Justice is a perception governed by the moral outlook and expectations of a society.
Society calls it the justice system. It’s a misnomer. In fact we are all subject to the legal system which society expects to meter out justice. Increasingly we are disappointed.
Based on the British system, Australian law works under the presumption of innocence where the burden of proof of guilt without reasonable doubt falls to the crown.
Over time, the law has changed. Nowhere is this change more apparent than in sentencing. The courts, for a variety of reasons have moved from punishment to rehabilitation of offenders. “Let the punishment fit the crime” no longer carries the weight it once did. It is not unusual to witness repeat offenders strut from the courts displaying utter contempt for the legal system after receiving community service orders, suspended sentences or a mere slap on the wrist. Watching this daily parade, liberally served up by the media, it is little wonder that the society has lost faith in what is unfortunately described as a justice system.
Putting offenders behind bars comes at a high cost. Be that as it may, cost is an economic consideration that should have no bearing on justice. In allowing some of these criminals out into the community because the jails are full or it is too costly to imprison them, the legal system is giving those criminals the opportunity to reoffend. That same legal system is telling society that the courts place a greater value on cost than community safety. This is not good enough!
The highly emotional Baden-Clay case would seem to be the proverbial straw that ‘broke the camel’s back’ where public outrage is demanding a review of a legal system that society no longer believe serves justice and in that context presents a real danger to the welfare and safety of the community.
We may not like what legal spokesperson Bill Potts has to say but in respect to the letter of the law he is correct in his statements. In his professional capacity as a criminal lawyer, Bill must work within the framework of the law in preserving and adhering to it.
Clearly, society believes that the law has become a law unto itself and that those who interpret and administer it do so in a cloistered environment that is detached from society’s rightful expectations to have the law serve them by assuring justice is done and seen to be done.
Compassion, tolerance and understanding are worthy human attributes but there are those within society who use them against it to deflect the justice they deserve. Justice may well be depicted as wearing a blindfold but if she is blinded to her purpose, that blindfold should be removed.
© 2015 Bob Janssen | BobJanssen.com.au