Bring Person A to justice! Get justice for Person B! I hear these things often. I get sent links to donate to fundraisers under the guise of justice. I get asked to sign petitions under the same pretense.
Seriously folks, let’s leave justice out of it and say what we really want: vengeance. When we are wronged or feel we have been wronged, we don’t give a shit about justice, we want vengeance, plain and simple. It’s part of the human condition.
I’ll give you a hypothetical: Person A has an IQ of 72 and a long history of mental illness. He shoots and kills a fifty year old man. Now, under Missouri law if his IQ was 70 or below, he would be considered incapable of fully understanding the consequences of his actions and therefore, the death penalty would not be an option. Most likely, there wouldn’t even be a trial, he’d be treated as unfit to stand trial and sent to an institution… probably for the rest of his life, but an institution for the criminally insane is better than a maximum security prison like in Jefferson City. However, as I said, Person A has an IQ of 72, meaning he isn’t mentally challenged under state law. It doesn’t matter that he draws disability for his mental status, he’s competent. But add in his bout with mental illness; bipolar depression and extreme paranoia. Do those 2 IQ points really matter when combined with mental illness? I would say not. I know people with much higher IQ’s that cannot appreciate the consequences of their actions because they are bipolar. So, do we send him to prison? Do we institutionalize him? Do we sign him up for lethal injection?
It doesn’t matter what answer you picked, just remember it.
Same situation, but change the victim’s age to 12. Now, what do we do with Person A? Same three choices.
Did you find the answer changed?
If it did, don’t feel too bad, for most, it does. But is that really justice? If the victim’s age impacts the perception of the crime that much, it isn’t justice, it’s vengeance. As a matter of fact, if the outcome changes because of anything related to the victim, it isn’t justice. See, in the eyes of justice, the murder of a twelve year old is not more heinous than the murder of a fifty year old… that is a societal judgment and therefore, cannot be considered when seeking justice. There’s a reason Lady Justice wears a blindfold, she is not supposed to be swayed by the societal constructs in which the crime was committed. The victimization of one human being should not be more important than the victimization of another, except as it relates to the crime itself and the competency of the person committing the crime. That is true justice.