Given how easy it is recognize in both paradigms that justice is about victims, why do people so often think justice is about punishing the criminal? Often, when protesters call for justice in the name of a victim, they call not for reparations or restitution, but for criminal prosecution of the perpetrator. Why does this attitude persist? Even libertarian theorists, most notably Murray Rothbard in The Ethics of Liberty, attempt to move from justice for victims, restitution, to criminal law, retribution.
For too long, the state has had a stranglehold on justice. Frederic Bastiat noted that when justice is perverted by the state, the people come to know nothing else but the state’s actions as “justice.” It is no surprise, then, that justice is thought to be some kind of persecution of those who do harm to others. The state uses justice as the banner under which it may take its looter’s share. By parading about as the “thin blue line” police become symbols of morality, even as they leave destroyed lives in their wake. Prisons are warehouses for the socially discomforting and pens for the downtrodden who would otherwise mar the cityscapes of the influential, not temples of justice, nor cages for social decay. The state and its agents have stolen justice from its citizens.
Bitcoin tips welcome: