The Proper Function Of The Legal System

* * *

Why is one out of every 100 Americans in prison? Why do people believe getting justice depends on having money? Why are there so many innocent people in prison? Why do people believe the legislative process is corrupt?

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF CRIMINAL LAW: The purpose of criminal law should be first to protect society from criminality while ensuring the maximum freedom and happiness of all citizens, and second to compensate the victim(s) of crime insofar as is possible. In line with this the penalties for any crime should be comensurate with the injury and/or loss to the victim, and should be used to fully compensate the victim rather than the state, as is usually the case currently. In other words criminal courts should take over much of function of civil courts. Additionally the thrust of any sentence should be the re-education and re-orientation of the criminal's behavior toward the goal of preventing repeat criminality. Punishment and the threat of punishment certainly has some deterent effect but is much less effective than successful re-education. Another basic principle should be that the sentence should be such as to result in less total suffering rather than more, including even that of the perpetrator, whose rehabilitation must ultimately depend on his acceptance of a just and compassionate society. Another principle should be that a criminal should not profit by his crime. In many cases today white collar criminals and some others manage to profit more by their criminality than they lose in penalties. Obviously this should not be the case and in such cases fines must always be substantially greater than any profits, and those fines should again always go back to the victims to more than compensate their losses.

A CLEAR SEPARATION BETWEEN BUDGETARY LEGISLATION AND CRIMINAL LEGISLATION IS NEEDED: Determining what constitutes criminality and how the public monies will be spent are two very separate issues and should be strictly separated and legislated by separate bodies. Both processes should be completely transparent and open to the public. Criminal law should be universal and largely unchanging and tamperproof, subject to change only through very strict procedures. Budgetary legislation on the contrary must be done at least every year and subject to very tight safeguards to prevent the rampant abuse currently seen in all societies.

VICTIMLESS CRIMES: Many so called crimes have no victims and should be decriminalized. Prime examples are drug related crimes, most sexual crimes not involving violence or force, many financial and clerical type violations, and violations of numerous minor statutes. These should all be decriminalized. By so doing the prison population would be greatly reduced, law enforcement and other resources could be reduced all resulting in considerable less burden on the taxpayer and greatly lessening the anti-social effect of criminalizing large numbers of persons. A basic tenet of the legal system is that the sentence if any should always be proportional to any negative effect on the victim. Thus if there is no victim it follows there can be no crime.

DRUGS: It is a basic tenet of freedom that people should be allowed to put any substance into their body that they choose so long as the negative effect on others is minimal. Drugs should be treated as a medical problem and sold in pharmacies to ensure purity and safety. This would destroy the violent global criminal networks of the drug trafficers at one stroke. The only real solution to the drug problem is to understand the reason that drugs are taken is an attempt to improve the quality of lives which are lacking something that use of drugs seeks to fulfill. The solution is to fill that need with positive replacements to enhance the quality of people's lives. There is in fact a great opportunity for drug companies to come up with relatively safe recreational drugs. The market is quite obviously huge.

THE PRISON SYSTEM: Incarcerating convicted criminals together is probably the worst possible thing one can do if the goal is to reform the criminal and reduce future crime. Prisons are in effect colleges of crime where criminals learn how to commit crimes and are inspired to do so by their peers. It is also an extreme environment which increases the anger, hostility and despair and purposelessness that often leads to crime in the first place. This is why the rate of recidivism is so high. For non-violent criminals a much more effective plan is to let them serve out their sentences going to vocational school where they could learn legal ways to support themselves and function in society. They could do this while wearing a tracking device which would allow their movements to be logged by supervising authorities. Criminals convicted of crimes of violence should be incarcerated, but not in the presence of other criminals, while the reasons for their violence were determined and addressed. Only those who could not be effectively cured should be permanently incarcerated as a last resort.

THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS IS CORRUPT: A source for much of the corruption in government is the ability of the legislative body to make laws. In an efficient society the set of basic laws and freedoms would be codified in such a way that they could only be changed with great difficulty. A greatly expanded Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Criminal Justice. This would prevent legislators continually tampering with the laws in their ongoing attempts to obtain benefits for a select few at the expense of the general populace and to pander to their local electorate. The lawmaking system should be reformed in a number of ways. An important example would be prohibiting hidden 'pork' being added to laws which have nothing to do with the subject of the law.

UNIFORM LEGAL CODE: Society should strive for a simple an universal code of law that would be the same worldwide. The tyranny of individual local and national governments must be broken, as well as the power of their lawmakers to change the laws. Only then can the people be truly secure and free. This code should guarantee the same universal rights worldwide, as well as the same punishments for the same crimes. Compensations should always go the victims rather than to the state, though costs could go to the state paid by the convicted criminal. Re-education should always be the 'sentence' if possible, rather than punishment. These global laws should equally protect citizens from local governments. Eg. damage or injury caused by any military or police force to any but combatants or criminals should be a crime with punishment equivalent to that if it had been commited by individual criminals.

THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE: 1. Compassion and minimization of pain and suffering of all humans and animals shall be the underlying principle of all law. 2. Any two or more persons shall have an absolute right to enter into and maintain any relationship of whatever kind without hinderance so long as it is consensual. All parties may have the right to withdraw from or terminate any such relationship at any time freely without penalty or hinderance, and shall have the right to appeal to the law for assistance if need be. 3. All criminality shall be judged entirely on harm to the putative victim as reported by the un-coached and un-pressured victim themselves or being obvious to an impartial expert observer from physical evidence of bodily harm. Qualified professionals may offer testimony or evidence that any reported harm is less than the plaintiff reports, but never more than the plaintiff reports. 4. All penalties imposed by law on convicted criminals shall be directed to mitigating the harm done to the victim in just compensation of the amount of harm done. 5. All sentences imposed on the defendant shall be solely directed towards remedying the motivation for the crime so that it will not be repeated.

THE BASIC RIGHTS GUARANTEED TO ALL: 1. Maximum Privacy. 2. Freedom Of Expression. 3. Control over one's own person, including freedom to ingest any substance, and to take one's own life. 4. Control over one's real property, including the protection against seizure by government for the so called public good. If government needs your property they must be willing to pay your price. 5. Protection against discrimination on any basis including age. 6. Free access to information guaranteed. 7. Right to bear arms for law abiding citizens. Right to all to keep firearms in their homes and owned businesses for protection.

LIMITATIONS ON LAW ENFORCEMENT POWERS: 1. Law enforcement should not be allowed to break the law for any purpose. For example they should not be allowed to run illegal businesses or sell illegal materials even to try to catch potential criminals. 2. Law enforcement should only be allowed to use force to apprehend proportial to the severity of the alleged crime. Eg. using deadly force to stop a fleeing suspected criminal should only be allowed if the alleged crime was commited with deadly force. 3. Public safety, eg. in police pursuit or use of deadly force should always be the prime concern.

THE TRIAL PROCESS IS CORRUPT AND COUNTERPRODUCTIVE: Rather than all parties trying to determine the truth of the case, the trial process encourages prosecutors to convict at all costs, often leading to presentation of only evidence supporting guilt and suppresion of contrary evidence. This leads in many cases to the conviction of innocent parties. As many at 10% of all convictions in the US system are thought to be of innocent parties. Also the effectiveness of the accused defense in the current system depends on his financial ability to hire effective counsel, resulting in poorer people being more likely to be falsely convicted. Sentences do not fit the crime.

SUICIDE SHOULD BE LEGALIZED: Anyone should be allowed to commit suicide legally, with medical assistance if need be. The most essential ingredient of freedom is that one owns one's own body. When the state tells someone they are not allowed to commit suicide it is essentially saying that your body and life are the property of the state, not your own. While it is true that many suicides, especially of younger persons, are committed in times of deep despair which might change with time or intervention, the ultimate choice must always be of the person involved. Cases of terminally ill patients are much clearer and should be facilitated by the medical establishment.