The other day I got into a great philosophical discussion with a friend about the evolution of justice. Most people understand that crime and punishment can be tempered with redemption and forgiveness and that these are the biggest elements of justice, but there was an interesting topic about law and how laws factor into justice. Follow me on this rabbit trail… Crime happens when laws are broken. That’s the start of the actions of justice, but what about the change in laws? How does this factor? And should it be more included in the equation? For instance, marijuana laws packed prisons decades ago and some are still serving that sentence. Yet most states, and now a federal push, have given rise to the complete acceptance of marijuana as another aspect of American life. Part of my problem with the equation of justice is that if it’s ok today, in principle, wasn’t it ok yesterday? Or decades ago? To me, laws needs to always be retroactive to make them just. One can argue that when a law was broken, it was indeed a law and punishable. And I know there are laws that encompass things like constitutionality and substantive change that force them to be retroactive, but if a law is worth changing for today, it seems like it’s in an effort to make course corrections to justice. Shouldn’t be?
I’m serving time with a crowd of people from multiple decades and the sentencing, the punishment, varied wildly from each generation. Prior to the mid 1980s, sentencing was paroleable with the burden on the inmate to prove rehabilitation safety, to the 1990s offering no parole and heavy sentencing with a distinct end time on all crimes, to today with a mixed bag of some crimes carrying set sentencing and select crimes having parole, with the burden being on the state to show a public danger. As these laws have changed and did such wild things, it seems like to keep the equation of justice in balance, it’s all or nothing. It make little sense to me to not evolve everyone to the standards of the day. But trust me when I say, I understand this wouldn’t be a conversation if people did as expected of the laws, regardless of time period…
by Rory Andes
Legal philosophy is just as compelling and any other thought…
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Rory Andes 367649
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