Crime can be defined as that action which causes harm to another human being. Harm can further be defined as the diminution of capacity to reach potential achievements over the rest of the expected lifespan.
The criminal, then, is one whose action can be proven to have harmed another.
The criminal act can be defined in several ways:
- Determined to harm but has not harmed;
- Determined to, and caused, harm;
- Determined to act yet harm occurred without determination to harm;
- Acted without determination and harm occurred.
- Determined not to act and harm occurred.
Determination can be defined as the self-initiated establishment of a goal. This implies intellectual competence to be self-determining. Determination must be evident i.e. actions must display the planning of the harmful act. However, when evidence is available, the determined planning is also a criminal act.
A matrix can be drawn to establish the level or degree of the crime, against:
- The degree of harm;
- The degree of determination and
- The degree to which the criminal might act criminally again.
It is valid to ask the question, why does it matter that some people become victimised by others? And the answer is less in how we SHOULD be good to each other for goodness sake, but in that society as a whole benefits from the protecting all of us against harm as much as we can. Society progresses through peace and the continuity of collective intelligent endeavour that arises. It disintegrates under unfettered criminality or war.
So the issue of criminality and justice is about securing a peaceful society. How do we use the matrix mentioned above, in protecting the society from an undermining of its capacity to progress? In otherwords how would it provide the basis of a justice system?
Role of Justice
The first role of justice is protection of the victim & the community from harm.
The second role of justice is recompense to the victim to the extent possible.
The third role of justice is to assist the criminal to contrition and recompense / penance, and return to service to the society.
The fourth role of justice is to ensure reward supports the acts that assist the development of human potential and society’s progress.
Response of Justice
The first response to the criminal act requires segregation of the criminal from the victims (actual & potential) for the safety of the community.
The second response is recompense for the victim from society’s common wealth for society as a whole is responsible for not protecting the victim.
The third response requires the criminal has avenue to become aware of the effect of their deed, to express contrition, and to aid recompense.
The fourth response requires that the services of the criminal is rewarded at an appropriate degree.
A matrix can be developed to define the management of the criminal by integrating the four responses against the degree of crime matrix.