Friday, December 09, 2005

"Repugnant to justice"

The wailing and gnashing of teeth has started over the Court of Appeal decision in the Taunoa case, with National's law and order spokesperson Simon Power declaring the decision to be "repugnant to justice". It's not. What's repugnant to justice is the attitude that some people should be denied it, no matter what is done to them. What's repugnant to justice is the idea that it is acceptable for the government to keep prisoners in solitary confinement for extended periods of time and force them to live in their own filth. And what's repugnant to justice is the idea that the state should suffer no consequences for violating its own laws.

What Power and his ilk are proposing is a return to outlawry. They are saying that there should be a class of persons - convicted criminals - who shall have no recourse to law and against which crimes can be committed with impunity. That our prisoners should be allowed to be beaten, raped, abused, and subjected to psychological torture, without having any legal protection. In short, that prisoners should be treated (or at least, should be allowed to be treated; the implementation following naturally) the way Sparta treated the Helots, and the way the American South treated blacks. And at the same time, with no sense of irony, they cry out for "equality under the law" on Treaty issues.

The core aspect of equality under the law is the idea that it applies to everyone, regardless of who they are or what they have done. That it is impartial, that both kings and peasants, prisoners and guards are subject to it. Simon Power and the rest of the "hang 'em high" brigade would flush that away in an instant, out of what can only be described as a lust for vengeance. And that is precisely what the state as an institution exists to prevent.


I should also note that Power is a bit behind the times. The Minister of Justice is Mark Burton, not Phil Goff.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 12/09/2005 01:09:00 PM

Logically and rationally, you are totally right. But you can see how victims of these criminals might feel a little different.

Posted by Muerk : 12/09/2005 05:34:00 PM

Whenever this happens its horrible for the victim...they get to re-live everything all over again and see the crim getting rich while they get nothing...thats unfortunate and they have a right to be angry...sure.

But if the government doesn't victims feeling bad and doesn't want to give money to crims and their lawyers it shouldn't make such a complete and total fuck-up of things in the first place.

We can't have the government failing to abide by its own laws, we can't have it going unpunished when it does break the law and we shouldn't stand for the complete absence of accountability that has happened in this case. If I was responsible for losing my employer that much money, if I broke the law and brought my employer (further) into disrepute I would expect to be looking for a new job...that is the main issue here and what the crims did to end up behind bars is almost irrelevent.


Posted by Anonymous : 12/09/2005 08:05:00 PM

Anon: I don't think criminals are "cuddly" at all. Rather, I think that if we want our law to be worth the bits it is written in, then we must be consistent about it, apply it to all, and exclude no-one from justice. Otherwise we don't have law, but the depredations of an organised gang.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 12/09/2005 10:03:00 PM

The criminals are being punished by the removal of their liberty to go as they the please, ie by being put in jail. Any punishment beyond this, be it physical, mental, or otherwise is not what is ordered by the courts; with all the authority that they have.

Anything more or less than this (whether it be legitimised torture or house arrest) needs to be allowed by government and parliament. And ultmately us.

There is every reason that we have a series of institutional checks in place that remove the power of punishment from the correction authorities and place in the hands of the courts. Esp. when corrections is so underfunded and under valued in nz. If we give corrections the power to deliver punishment as they see fit, then we go down the terrible terrible model that America has established; we don't want that.

Despite what we may feel that criminals deserve for their often disgusting actions, it is a good test of a society to see how it treats its criminals. Additionally, nearly every indepth study made shows that inmates that are treated humanly with a sense of returning them to their society are much much less likely to re offend, which is better for them, better for their non-existent future victims, and better for the taxpayer who doesn't have to spend the $50,000 a year housing and feeding them. but don't get me started.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/09/2005 10:36:00 PM

brutalzin a criminal without a very good reason (eg self defence) devalues the person doing hte brutalization as well as the person being beaten.

there is a big diference between teaching someone a lesson and getting revenge on them and the two things shouldnt be confused - our prison system and the way the public views it tends to go more for the later than the former.

there wil be an appropriate way to deal with criminals in order to reform them etc and any decision by a guard to deviate from that policy has a large cost to society as a whole (even totaly ignoring harm to the criminal himself).

Posted by Genius : 12/11/2005 02:55:00 PM

Power needs to spend a bit of time behind bars, where he is at the mercy of the guards - then we'll see who needs compensation. WHile we're at it, let's send the entire National Party caucus to prison.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/12/2005 12:19:00 PM

What I can not understand is if this policy was wrong and illegal - which has been proved by giving compensation - why has no guards and officals been arrested for their illegal acts. If an act is illegal then the person committing it should be tried. I understand why compensation needs to be given, it appears to have been the state giving an illegal order but the guards are bound to disobey an illegal order - that is what Nuremburg was all about! And for anonymous read Fagan's speech in the Merchant of Venice - being a crim doesn't make you less human.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/15/2005 03:03:00 PM

Meant Shylock - Fagan is in Dickens Oliver Twist - sorry

Posted by Anonymous : 12/15/2005 03:24:00 PM