“America would be wise to understand the difference between punishment and justice.” Adam Kokesh,
In order for justice to be served, there must be a crime. If there is no victim, there is no crime. As stated in a previous post, America – the supposed land of the free – has the highest per capita prison population in the world. Most of these prisoners are incarcerated because of the War on Drugs. Many are now joining them due to the War on Terror, or in the name of “safety”. Today, Americans are being spied on in an effort to control speech. For example, Brandon J. Raub, a Veteran, was arrested solely for his Facebook posts. Dissenting speech or possession of certain items, such as drugs or guns, deem you a criminal in the eyes of the State.
But how do those things alone produce a victim? They don’t. A real crime involves two parties: the offender and the victim. Government is not society; it is a monopoly on force. It is impossible for government to claim property rights on anything. Ayn Rand noted, “‘The common good’ (or ‘the public interest’) is an undefined and undefinable concept: there is no such entity as ‘the tribe’ or ‘the public’; the tribe (or the public or society) is only a number of individual men” and “When ‘the common good’ of a society is regarded as something apart from and superior to the individual good of its members, it means that the good of some men takes precedence over the good of others, with those others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals.”
Who is being served when people are punished by the State for “crimes” without victims? Politicians are, when passing legislation. How the decision makers are chosen in the American criminal justice system is also a political process. Judges and prosecutors often act with their own political ambitions in mind. This results in political demagoguery and the prosecution of perceived political enemies.
The vast majority of criminal cases end with a guilty plea rather than a trial. We have a system of pleas rather than a system of trials. The defendant who goes to trial instead of taking a plea will most likely be harmed by receiving a conviction on more serious charges and the imposition of a more severe sentence. In other words, you are penalized for going to trial. Prosecutors love plea bargains because they are evaluated largely by their conviction rates, and all plea bargains result in convictions. Prosecutors use overcharging to coerce guilty pleas from defendants and deprive them of the procedural safeguards and the full investigation of the trial process. When overcharging and the trial penalty are combined in the regular practice of plea bargaining, defendants have little choice but to plead guilty, and virtually every act may be disposed of without a trial.
A jury trial provides no guarantee. Jury verdicts are very unpredictable. They are often intolerant and unfair. Counsel is not permitted to present the concept of jury nullification to the jury. In 2011, prosecutors charged Julian P. Heicklen, a retired chemistry professor, with jury tampering because he stood outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan providing information about jury nullification to passers-by. Almost always, the jury will convict a person based on what the government says the law is, and not the law itself.
The Prison Industrial Complex pulled in more than $5 billion in America in 2011. Our epidemic of incarceration costs us taxpayers $63.4 billion a year. There are financial incentives to keep the prisons full, and there are also financial incentives for “humanitarians” with their “healing therapy.”
Locking people in cages and coercing them into plea bargains in order to serve the political elite and the well-connected, especially when the crime has no victim, is not justice, and justice is not the intent of the U.S. system. The American system is designed to make criminals when there are none, and force people to admit to wrongdoing when there is none, while using propaganda such as “public safety” to get away with it, and is centered around punishment rather than justice.
Punishment is an emotional, vindictive, and retaliatory reaction. It doesn’t make the victim whole. Justice is rational, while bringing vindication and closure to the victim. It is determined by the actual victim and not politicians. It does not further victimize the victim by forcing payment for the prison industrial complex through taxation, but instead allows the victim to be compensated through repayment and reparations. Truly dangerous criminals should be forcibly isolated from the rest of us, but when property rights are perverted and moral principles are lost, true justice is rarely served.