Sunday, December 23, 2012

The idea of justice

This is not about the book. But it may have something from this one.

Newspapers are now filled with lines like "We want justice" or  "Justice delayed is justice denied". Why do we have this apparent lack of justice? One thing that comes to mind is the fact that justice is not what it used to be. The only kind of justice available now for law abiding citizens of the country is what can be called legal justice.

I feel justice is a sort of cultural thing. It is something that is obvious to people at all the times but capturing it in rules and guidelines detaches it from its cultural roots.  The good and the bad part of legal justice is that it is defined and written. Just like all computer systems are hack-able, so is legal justice because it is also a kind of "code". Code that runs on computer has finite set of symbols and it has no ambiguity, and still it is possible to hack it. The code of legal justice has further complications, it is subject to interpretation. In some sense best lawyers are  hackers of legal code. They are highly paid and celebrated, whereas their computer counterparts are looked at in totally different spirit.

I can think of only two ways for legal justice to be effective. One is to have the jury system. If 10-12 random people think something is a crime, it likely is. People are a very good competition to people. They can understand each other, their motives and can evolve with time, unlike rules which can be easily abused. Lots of criminals would have been behind the bars if we have random people deciding their fate and not a set of rules, subject to interpretation of a small set of professionals. People can understand why witness turn hostile or why you don't get evidence. The law that only punishes criminals if there are witnesses and evidence,  is the logical/primary reason for criminals to threaten witnesses and to hide evidence.

The second way could be rules which are defined using languages that computers can understand. The benefit of such an approach is that anyone sitting in their home can input the related facts and see the outcome of the trial. We don't need any trial. Someone can write a crime generator and enumerate all possible crimes and their punishments. Basically instead of getting hacked in the court, which is a super slow process and sensitive because someones life is at stake, if we have a system which can be hacked any time by anyone, we end up with a better system. Call it open source justice if you will.

Justice is either a logical thing encoded in rules or something complex which perhaps only people can understand. In case it is first, it is logical to make it "people free" i.e. define it in a language computers can understand because they are so much better at this. If not, then let people run the show i.e let's have jury to decide stuff not judges. I just don't understand the rationale of the current system which seems to prevent the very thing it is supposed to provide..i.e justice.

By going to streets people might get some justice now, but what these exceptions tell us is that something is fundamentally wrong with the system itself. A short term focus will bring justice but it would be nothing more than revenge. But if we could fix the system itself, it can prevent injustice in the first place. I would prefer a better system than ever watching the replay of this story again.

Sometimes the middle path doesn't leads anywhere, you got to choose.

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