Monday, December 24, 2012

Anger and Rage - Justice in all Courts and not just Fast Courts

There was a third incident of rage and rampage in China - in addition to the two which were highly visible in India last week. This one also attacked school children as in the US. I was struck by the quote:
“Chinese society is full of anger and rage,” said Murong Xuecun, a best-selling novelist and popular online commentator. “Everybody has anger. It must be noted that every society has its share of sociopaths. But for China to have so many is no doubt abnormal.”
This could apply equally well to India. I am troubled by repeated requests for fast-track courts for various crimes which catch the imagination of media and public. This distracts from the obvious need for justice for any and all crimes - no matter how small.

Heinrich von Kleist's Michael Kohlhaas (ebook on Gutenberg) is a classic example of the problems a society can face as a consequence of a relatively minor injustice of misuse of power.

I wish we would accept research on deterrence and re-work the legal system accordingly:
Research has shown that increasing the severity of a punishment does not have much effect on crime, while increasing the certainty of punishment does have a deterrent effect
I suspect that the likelihood of conviction would go up if the severity of punishment was less.
  • Risk of the consequences of a wrong decision will be much lower. 
  • The reward for subverting the judicial process would also be lower. 
  • The process of trial would probably shorten and all pending cases would benefit.
This would be quite analogous to tax compliance increasing as the income tax rates go down.

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