Justice? Or Revenge?

There is no justice unless the judged agree. Without understanding and repentance there can only be revenge. There's a belief that any society that is forced to punish its citizens is, to one degree or another, an unhealthy state... A man who recognizes his crime and accepts his punishment is a member of good standing in his country. But the criminal who runs and hides, who is unrepentant even though he knows what he's done, is a symptom of a much greater disease.
~Walter Mosley

This is one of the many reasons why our criminal and juvenile justice systems don't work. No matter how much we try to deny it, societal laws are just a combination of moral and behavioral code. If people don't agree with, and understand the moral code, they won't follow the behavioral codes that go along with them. For example, these are a few moral code that we have put into law:

Marry only one person. Adults can only marry other adults. You can't cut off the hand of a person who steals from you. You can't sell your daughter. You can't take someone else's car on the street just because you like it.

We put moral codes into law, thereby making them codes of behavior we must live by. Yet if we refuse to admit that we desire a moral code as a society, and continue to pretend that each family can create their own moral code, then we must expect each family to create an individual behavior code. And so therefore, we are hypocritical for imprisoning people for acting outside of a prescribed behavioral code. Do you follow, Internet People?

People who break the behavioral code of the country must also believe they have broken a moral code, or else they do not see why they should change their behavior. For example, many poor people with few options wonder why they are so persecuted for small time drug selling. The moral code of 'taking care of the family' or 'doing for one's self 'is for many stronger than 'do not sell drugs no matter what'. And so when they are punished for selling drugs, they continue to feel justified in their actions, because their moral code fit their own behavior code.

What do you all think?

* FYI: Walter Mosley is a freakin' genius. One of the best fable-ists of our time, if you branch out from the Easy Rawlins series.

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