A system of justice does not need to pursue retribution. If the purpose of drug sentencing is to prevent harm, all we need to do is decide what to do with people who pose a genuine risk to society or cause tangible harm. There are perfectly rational ways of doing this; in fact, most societies already pursue such policies with respect to alcohol: we leave people free to drink and get inebriated, but set limits on where and when. In general, we prosecute drunk drivers, not inebriated pedestrians.In this sense, the justice system is in many respects a battleground between moral ideas and evidence concerning how to most effectively promote both individual and societal interests, liberty, health, happiness and wellbeing. Severely compromising this system, insofar as it serves to further these ideals, is our vacillation or obsession with moral responsibility, which is, in the broadest sense, an attempt to isolate the subjective element of human choice, an exercise that all too readily deteriorates into blaming and scapegoating without providing effective solutions to the actual problem. The problem with the question of moral responsibility is that it is inherently subjective and involves conjecture about an individuals’ state of mind, awareness and ability to act that can rarely if ever be proved. Thus it involves precisely the same type of conjecture that characterizes superstitious notions of possession and the influence of the devil and provides no effective means of managing conduct: the individual convicted for an offence or crime considered morally wrong is convicted based on a series of hypotheses and probabilities and not necessarily because he or she is actually morally wrong. The fairness and effectiveness of a system of justice based on such hypotheses is highly questionable particularly as a basis for preventing or reducing drug use related harm. For example, with respect to drugs, the system quite obviously fails as a deterrent and the system is not organised to ‘reform’ the offender much less to ensure that he or she has ‘learned a lesson’; moreover, the offender does not get an opportunity to make amends or even have a conversation with the alleged victim. In the case of retributive justice, the justice system is effectively mopping up after the fact. In other words, as far as deterrence is concerned, the entire exercise of justice becomes an exercise based on faith, rather than one based on evidence.
Daniel Waterman
Marvel comes quickly, cloaked in the mundane. It's the woman waking to the smell of smoke as fire spreads, miles away, through her brother's house. It's the sharp flash of recognition as a young man glimpses, in the ordinary hubbub, the stranger with whom he will share his life. It's a mother's dream of her baby, blue in the cold store, six months before he comes, stillborn, into the world. Even the Church Fathers admitted the category of marvelous- or mirabilis, as they knew it. For them it was an irksome classification. A grey area.Compare the marvel with it's less troublesome metaphysical kin. In the thirteenth century, the miracle reflected the steady-handed authorship of the divine- truth made manifest. Similarly magic, or magicus, demonstrated with tell-tale showmanship the desperate guile of the devil. The marvel, however, was of poor performance and tended, therefore, towards ambiguity. It took shape in the merely mortal sphere. It seemed to lack the requisite supernatural chutzpah. Here, the clergy were typically surplus to requirements. Yet, if less outwardly compelling, the marvel was also less easily contained than either the miraculous or the magical. It remained more elusive. More stubborn. And if finally reducible in time, with the erosions of memory, to rationalization, anecdote, drinking tale or woman's lore, the marvel also rarely failed to leave behind a certain residual uncertainty. A discomfiting sense of possibility. Or, on bolder occasions, an appetite for wonder.
Alison MacLeod
Society gives the image of sexual violators as weird, ugly, anti-social, alcoholics. Society gives the impression that violators kidnap children are out of their homes and take them to some wooded area and abandon them after the violation. Society gives the impression that everyone hates people who violate children. If all of these myths were true, healing would not be as challenging as it is. Half of our healing is about the actual abuse. The other half is about how survivors fit into society in the face of the myths that people hold in order to make themselves feel safe. The truth is that 80% of childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members. Yet we rarely hear the word incest. The word is too ugly and the truth is too scary. Think about what would happen if we ran a campaign to end incest instead of childhood sexual abuse. The number one place that children should know they are safe is in their homes. As it stands, as long as violators keep sexual abuse within the family, the chances of repercussion by anyone is pretty low. Wives won’t leave violating husbands, mothers won’t kick their violating children out of the home and violating grandparents still get invited to holiday dinners. It is time to start cleaning house. If we stop incest first, then we will strengthen our cause against all sexual abuse.
Rosenna Bakari