Of all the aspects of a democracy that create debate and consternation, the approach to justice and criminal rehabilitation is one of the more significant. This is chiefly because it has a definitive impact on the well being and security of society, in addition to accounting for a large sum of tax revenue and government expenditure, and also challenges the important issues of morality amongst a nation’s citizens. This not only applies to the morality of the perpetrators of crime, but also the methodology used in administering justice.
There are many different approaches to crime and punishment across the globe, from those based upon democratic principles to others that are primitive and often reflective of a totalitarian rule. The US largely adheres to the former, although some states within the countries boundaries do still employ capital punishment as a consequence of specific types of crime. While the democratic model of justice is one that reflects the best balance of morality and rehabilitation, there are issues with originate from it’s core values.
Admitting Guilt and Reduced Sentencing
As aspect of this is reduced sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea, which remains a feature of existing law regardless of the severity of a crime or its moral implications. This is a longstanding pivot upon which justice veers, and allows perpetrators of crime to escape from the maximum punishment allowed by law through a simple and public admission of their guilt. While this is seen as a partial act of acceptance and also saves crucial tax payers money designated for a trial, the question remains as to whether it has become a largely cynical deed rather than a humanitarian one.
Of course, a guilty plea generally spares the victims families from the personal horrors of a trial, and the intimate detail that is revealed through its manifestation, and if this is the intention of a defendant then it is a clear indication of remorse. However, as it is an act that is known to secure a reduced sentence and judicial consequence, it has over time developed to be little more than a bargaining tool proffered by criminals and their representatives.
The moral implication of this is also worthy of consideration, especially in terms of the interaction that is undertaken between a criminal and law enforcement bodies. For instance, where an individual has been arrested and charged with a crime, the prosecution is usually supported by a degree of circumstantial and corporeal evidence. Should this be overwhelming, it is surely ethically inappropriate for a criminal to receive judicial leniency on the basis if a mere admission of their accepted guilt, and subsequently see that only a partial justice is served.
The Concepts of Guilt and Diminished Responsibility
A corporeal example of this was reported in the US this week, where a second man featured in a high profile crime has asked a court to accept in guilty plea prior to the commencement of his trial. The man is question was Joshua Komisarjevsky , and the crime was a particularly brutal instance of home invasion and murder, for which his partner has already been convicted and sentenced to death. While the case for the prosecution is damning, the defendant s representatives are hoping that an admission of guilt will spare him the death penalty and instead commit him to life imprisonment.
The basis for this is that the fellow perpetrator had admitted to committing the more heinous of the crimes in question, and that the setting of the fatal fire was his design and ultimate action. Defence lawyers feel that this exonerates Mr. Komisarjevsky to some degree, in that it was not his intention to commit murder and that he was led by a more commanding and influential perpetrator. There may well be elements of truth in this argument, but it is a dangerous precedent and one which does little to assist the families of those affected.
Here we have a criminal who is clearly guilty, and played his part in a home invasion and ultimate murder ad attempted murder of those who dwelt inside. Despite this, the law may well allow him to escape the ultimate punishment that his deeds would warrant, on the basis of a simple confession and the grounds of diminished responsibility. Although this often a term which refers to those who are mentally unwell or unable to accept that their actions are wrong, it is increasingly applied to instances where criminals are young or considered to have been led by fellow perpetrators.
The Law as a Protector of People
The law is in position to protect citizens from crime and criminal machinations, and justice exists to ensure that those who commit offences are subsequently punished and rehabilitated. For this to be wholly successful, it must be an entirely transparent and clearly defined process, in so much that there is no room for bargaining or ill deserved reward for a simple admission of wrong doing. Not only do the waters of justice become increasingly sullied or unclear, but perpetrators of the most abhorrent crimes are allowed to receive reduced sentences without showing any overt remorse or consideration of their wrong doing.