A modest proposal…
‘So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or the left. Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.’ Deuteronomy 5v32-33
‘And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6v8.
In worldview terms, justice is naturally grounded in Ultimate Reality within the Biblical worldview, but not within the humanistic worldview.
Within the Biblical worldview justice is an attribute of God, an expression of the moral nature or character of God, and thus is an aspect of Ultimate Reality. He’s the standard behind which there is no other standard, the higher law which gives meaning to all lesser law, and commends or condemns them. Justice is conformity to his nature as expressed in the law he’s established for us to live by. Thus injustice is a violation of his law and of his nature.
He expresses a great many times his opposition and judgment against those who commit injustice and oppress others. Alternatively he praises those who defend the oppressed and stand for truth and righteousness in judgement. In the Bible the terms ‘justice’ and ‘righteousness’ are effectively synonymous,
Humanism’s Ultimate Reality is matter/energy which is amoral and thus provides no basis for morality and thus for justice.
The administration of justice is always an expression of a theology, and sin, a violation of the standards espoused by any worldview, is always ultimately against the ‘god’ of the worldview.
A Biblical illustration of this occurs in the situation of David and Bathsheba. David, the King of Israel, commits adultery with Bathsheba and has her husband Uriah murdered. When his sin was exposed by Nathan the prophet, David repents and writes what is now Psalm 51. He begins:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.’ Psalm 51:1-4
‘Against you, you only, have I sinned…’ Clearly David had sinned against Uriah, Bathsheba, their parents, and others, by allowing free reign to his lust. So what is he saying? He’s saying that ultimately all sin is against God, and in comparison to that, the violation of his fellows’ pales into insignificance. Was his violation of Uriah and Bathsheba insignificant? No, it wasn’t, but when viewed against the violation of God, it was. David is focusing on the most significant violation that occurred, and acknowledging the enormity of his crime by doing so.
This theological point that sin is primarily against God and secondarily against our fellows has ramifications when it comes to the administration of justice.
Within the Biblical Worldview, God is the primary victim of any sin, no matter what it is. All Biblically defined crime committed against others is first and foremost against God. However God, the primary victim, insists that in human affairs the primary human victim is put right through having all their losses and costs made good by the offender.
With the humanistic worldview, the most powerful god inevitably, is the State. Thus in Justice Systems around the world, all crime is primarily seen as being against the State, and the State administered social order. Mostly, once a crime is committed and the Police and State agencies kick into gear, the primary human victim is pushed aside and becomes a spectator to the State dealing with the offender. Punishments meted out generally have very little to do with the victim and putting them right. It is the State that gets its pound of flesh and the victim is left with nothing. False gods are not compassionate like the true God is.
As I’ve already outlined in another article, God has established various governments to be administrators of justice in human affairs, and the civil government to be a court where wrongdoers are tried and punished, and those who are oppressed by wrongdoers are put right.
What I want to do is explore one aspect of the administration of Justice, and propose a broad principle and several strategies around which a Biblically grounded Justice System can be built.
The principle is based on a number of Biblical passages, firstly from the Ten Commandments, then from Exodus 22, part of the case law section following the ten commandments, and finally from a Proverb.
‘You shall not steal.’ Exodus 20v15.
‘If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep. If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens (if he strikes him) after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.
A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft.
If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession – whether ox or donkey or sheep – he must pay back double.
If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard.
If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing corn or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.
If a man gives his neighbour silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbour’s house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double. But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges to determine whether he has laid his hands on the other man’s property.
In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, `This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to his neighbour.
If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbour for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no-one is looking, the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the LORD that the neighbour did not lay hands on the other person’s property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required. But if the animal was stolen from the neighbour, he must make restitution to the owner. If it was torn to pieces by a wild animal, he shall bring in the remains as evidence and he will not be required to pay for the torn animal.
If a man borrows an animal from his neighbour and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, he must make restitution. But if the owner is with the animal, the borrower will not have to pay. If the animal was hired, the money paid for the hire covers the loss. Exodus 22:1-15
‘Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.’ Proverbs 6v30-31.
The case law passage is dealing with property offences – which are the majority of offences and in principle, relatively easy to deal with. It does not contain vague principles but blunt, clear cut statements about God’s requirement that victims are restituted. There is only one statement given regarding a mechanism to bring restitution about and it is in the verse which clearly states the principle, v3:
“A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft.”
Here it says that if a thief has nothing, he or she is to be sold to pay for their crime. In all other cases it is presupposed that the thief has wealth of some sort out of which to repay the victim.
Further, the repayment was not a straight repayment of the stolen property, though that may have occurred in the cases of accidental damage to a neighbours standing grain. The repayment for theft was…in the case of animals stolen and sold or killed…for sheep, four times that stolen, for an ox, five times. For animals stolen but still alive and in the possession of the thief, and apparently anything else as represented by the donkey, repayment was double. It appears double the cost of the items stolen was the normal situation. It seems clear the multiple repayment was to compensate victims for the various costs they incurred as a result of the theft, and to act as a deterrent to crime.
The fact that the offender was required to repay their victim and yet no mechanism was stated other that selling the offender, indicates to me that the courts had the power to implement the requirement, and also discretion as to how it would be brought about. What it appears the court had no discretion about was that restitution would be made, and made to the amount which was the required multiple of that stolen. Once the amount stolen or destroyed was determined, the hands of the court were tied. The only possible way reduction could occur was if the victim reduced the amount.
To expand this latter point, if mercy is to be demonstrated, it can only come from the victim. It cannot be shown by the Judge or those officiating at the trial because they have not been wronged. They are not in a position to show mercy. If they do, they will violate the victim by taking away what is their prerogative…by standing illegitimately in the victims place. The person wronged is the only one who can legitimately show mercy and only if they so desire.
Moreover, others who are not wronged, must have no authority to put a guilt trip on the victim and demand or insinuate that they moderate the penalty. Far too many people – far too many Christians in fact, find it very easy to tell others what they should do in this type of matter when they have not been in the others shoes, and when it is none of their business. It is quite legitimate for the victim to require full restitution of the offender and they should not be put on a guilt trip if they do so. Mercy is never something deserved, otherwise it wouldn’t be mercy! Justice can be tempered by mercy but never requires it.
In Exodus 22, the fact offenders are compelled to repay their victims is made explicit in the case of the person without anything. They were to be sold in order to create an amount to pay the victim restitution.
By being sold they became a slave. It seems to me that it’s the principle of slavery that provides the basis for us to build a mechanism for getting restitution from offenders to victims, though of course today the word slavery is a very dirty word, probably one of the dirtiest words around. This Biblical slavery was not what we think of when the word is used today.
Proverbs says, ‘the borrower is servant to the lender.’ In other words, even in the legitimate case of a person borrowing from someone else, they in effect became a slave to the lender because of the hold the lender had over them and the obligation the borrower had to the lender. The same applies in the case of theft, but with the full weight of the law behind it.
It seems to me that while there is no flexibility on the principle of restitution here, (other than perhaps mercy shown by the victim) there is flexibility on the mechanism and need not be limited to that stated, ie the offender actually being sold into some sort of slavery. The inflexible principle in regards to mechanism is that the offender has to pay. Flexibility may apply if they cannot do so directly and immediately. They must go into some form of servitude to bring the required restitution about. Perhaps productive, profit making activities run from prisons, ie forest pruning, market gardening, laundry etc.
We are dealing here with case law, that is, a few specific cases of offending are given…along with the just penalty for them, and these illustrate principles of justice being outworked in specific situations. Case law is not meant to be woodenly and directly applied to all situations of offending, thus the idea of the offender being sold is not necessarily universally applicable. As I’ve said, what is universally applicable is the principle that the offender repays the victim their losses and costs.
Thus if ‘slavery’ here can be interpreted as being a specific case of a broad principle which has offenders under an obligation which is backed up by compulsion from the courts, then we are free to look for ways and means of bringing restitution from offenders to victims that conform to this principle.
Two things need to be noted here.
- Compulsion is a role of all judicial systems. In calling for compulsion to be applied to the getting of restitution payments from offenders, is not to call for anything different in principle to what pertains at present. Plenty of compulsion is used within the system at present. Of course the simple fact that compulsion is used does not tell us whether compulsion in any specific case is helpful or desirable, or even legitimate. No doubt there are plenty of cases where compulsion is little more than abuse. Further, I gather that today in New Zealand, in the case of benefit fraud, the court may order quite a light sentence, but Social Welfare Department and the Inland Revenue Department have power to extract the amount defrauded. It seems to me this is a miscarriage of justice. SWD and IRD are not part of the judicial system. An offence of this nature should be dealt with by judicial bodies, not the tax department or Social Welfare. No private individual has the right to use compulsion to extract losses and costs directly from offenders as these two agencies do at present. Why should they be so privileged?
- Slavery in a broad sense like this is not unique to a Biblical view of justice. Justice systems throughout the world at present utilise slavery as an integral part of their arsenal in dealing with offenders – although it is seldom referred to as slavery. Never the less, that is precisely what it is. Imprisonment is a form of slavery and is not only accepted, it is accepted as the first line of punishment for offenders. Yet imprisonment as carried out at present, is an utterly unproductive way of dealing with most offenders, in fact it is highly destructive of them and their families as well.
There are a number of situations described in this case law passage.
- A person steals an animal and sells it or kills it.
- A person steals an animal but does not sell or kill it – it is found alive in their possession.
- Disputed ownership.
- Damage and loss through negligence or wilful action.
- Damage or loss to something borrowed or hired.
V3 Says, ‘A thief must certainly make restitution’, but in the other cases (except in the case of hirage) where there is liability, restitution must also be made.
Three times the restitution is said to be double the loss. This is in the case of:
- the thief who is found with the stolen goods in his or her possession.
- Theft of property put in safe keeping with a neighbour.
- Disputed ownership which turns out to be theft.
In the case of the ox or sheep stolen, then sold or killed, the restitution is five times and four times respectively. This may be due to the extra complications that arise for the prosecuting parties in such cases.
Interestingly, and very importantly, there is nothing in the passage about the internal state of the offender as though somehow that has anything to do with it. The requirement of restitution is clearly not affected by the offenders internal state.
With the analysis of this biblical material, I can now state my basic principle. It is:
‘That …‘victim restoration’ should become the focus of all sentencing.’
Flowing from this basic principle I make two suggestions:
- That a ‘victim restoration’ programme be instituted which would ensure that the victim of crime is fully and promptly restituted by the offender for losses and costs incurred.
- That a ‘victim restoration’ programme be implemented by means of a ‘restitution fund’, out of which victims would be paid on conviction of offender, and into which the offender would pay the restitution amount, plus any costs.
By proposing ‘victim restoration’ as the focus of all sentencing, a conceptual sideways step has been taken out of conceptual boxes that control the present thinking about justice.
‘Victim restoration’ should not be confused with the term ‘restorative justice’ which has been introduced over the past few years. The term ‘restorative justice’, is an ill defined, and thus slippery term which can be made to mean more or less whatever a person who adopts the term wants it to mean. It has been used for not much more than a tinkering with present system, and is perceived by many as a soft option in dealing with crime. It also suggests that there’s ‘restorative’ justice, as well as, or as opposed to, some other sort of justice. This is not so. Biblically there is only justice. The term ‘restorative’ added to the term ‘justice’ wreaks the term justice. In fact adding any other word to the term justice wreaks its meaning, i.e. social justice, and the like.
‘Victim restoration’ on the other hand is an unambiguous term which isn’t open to manipulation in the same way because of its clear meaning. It clearly states what should be the first priority. It’s about restoring victims of crime to the state they were in prior to the offence against them occurring. That victims are the first priority in dealing with crime, doesn’t mean there are no objectives to be achieved in relation to the offender. What it does mean is that in order of importance, the victim is first and the offender is second, and that our major effort should be expended in achieving…our major focus should be on…the restoration of victims. This not the case today.
How is this restoration to be brought about? Through the offender being required to restitute their victims fully for all losses and costs they have incurred as a result of the crime.
The brilliance of Biblical law is that by having this focus on the victim, not only is the victim restored, but the offender has the best possible chance of also being restored. We as it were, ‘hit two birds with one stone’. Thus it’s not a case of being ‘for’ either one to the exclusion of the other, but rather a case of offering the greatest possible hope of both being restored.
- The victim will be restored through the offender being required (due to the compulsion inherent in the justice system, a compulsion which may in early stages only be the threat of force, as opposed its exercise) to pay full restitution.
- The offender has the possibility of being restored:
- through being made to accept responsibility (either willingly or through compulsion) for the consequences of their actions,
- through being offered, by means of the required restitution, the opportunity to atone (at a human level) for their guilt. The putting right of their victims is the only possible way they have at the human level of gaining freedom from a guilty conscience, and of putting their offence behind them. Any remorse and contrition they feel, can be channelled in the correct direction, that of putting their victim right. In short the concept regarding offenders is ‘firm but fair’. ‘Firm’ in that they’d be required to put their victim right, initially with only the threat of force, which if they don’t respond to, will become the actual application of force, ie. seizure of property etc. (This will let all know that the threat of force has substance). ‘Fair’ in that the penalty directly fits, and directly relates to, the crime and the victim of it. The offender is not ‘repaying their debt to society’…a nebulous concept if ever there was one…because the primary victim of crime is not society. Any debt there is to ‘society’ (whatever that means) is dealt with through them restoring their primary victim.
It’s not Government sanctioned revenge that I’m proposing, but Justice – making the penalty fitting the crime, which in many cases will mean the offender would be treated in a radically different way than the present system does, just as the victim would be treated in a radically different way than they are at present.
- Although removing dangerous people from the community is often necessary, imprisonment is for many or even most crimes, not a just or appropriate penalty. Imprisonment should not be an automatic penalty invoked. Prisons bust up families and remove people from the ability to earn to repay victims. Therefore non-violent and compliant offenders seldom need to be imprisoned.
- Prisons are at present, unproductive and destructive places, therefore they must be made productive, etc, so that victims can be restored as a result of the productivity.
- Incarceration does however…hopefully, though at present this is debatable…separate more dangerous offenders from the usual negative influences in their world for time out to pursue corrective action.
- The State is not the primary victim in crime as is the ruling view at the present, thus we will no longer view the State as in that role, etc etc.
Now of course the putting of things right at the human level is not sufficient to ultimately and permanently give a sinner freedom from a guilty conscience. Only when the sinner confesses their sin to God – the true primary victim in any crime – and asks for forgiveness on the basis of the death of Christ, can they become right in God’s eyes. Offenders should be given the opportunity of becoming right before God. An offender on being made right with God should, if they really desire to obey the Lord they now profess, desire of their own will to make their victims right. The force threatened by the justice system should not be required for such people because the fruit of true repentance will be the willingness to comply with the required restitution orders as an act of new found love and compassion for the victim. Truly repentant sinners accept responsibility for their actions.
However what if an offender is not contrite and does not accept their responsibility? No matter what their internal state, what can be required of them, and can be extracted from them under force of law, is the material putting right of their victim. This can be done whether or not the offender has any interest in putting right their victim. And this is why I said earlier there is only the possibility of offenders being restored. There is no guarantee that offenders will be contrite, remorseful, repentant, or compliant. It’s only when they’re repentant they can be restored. However, even if an offender is as bloody-minded as can be, through compulsion they can be made to restitute their victim. Their internal state is in a sense irrelevant to the victim being restituted. Whether they agree to it or not, they would be made to compensate the victim for the material and psychic damage incurred.
Nor is there the slightest need for victims and offenders to have anything to do with any ‘reconciliation’ programme which seem to be all the rage today, and viewed by many as the greatest things since sliced bread as far as justice goes. I have been involved in one of these and it was just a colossal waste of time, money and resources, as well as being totally fruitless. Many victims would not have known those who offend against them before the offence and there’s absolutely no need for them to get to know them afterwards. Most victims would have preferred the offender had never kicked their way into their lives in the first place, and would like to them to get right out of it permanently as soon as possible.
Now I would like to explore some objections to the ideas I have proposed.
Objection: Victims are not always honest and may very well rack up the loss they claim to have had.
Answer: This could very well happen. But several things can be said about it.
- This would have applied just as much at the time the Lord gave this law, and yet he did not refrain from requiring restitution being paid by offenders to victims because of it.
- This would act as a deterrent to any would be thieves. They do not know how honest their potential victims are and so rather than just a straight-forward repayment for actual loss plus costs, they may have to pay much more. They may be forced to ask themselves, ‘Should I risk this?’ It seems to me that judicially, victims should be deemed honest unless shown to be otherwise.
- If the victim is found to have done this, then they would be subject to exactly the same restitution conditions that apply to all others. They would in effect be attempting to steal (under legal protection) from the offender. This is a case of bearing false witness. Biblically the lying witness got the penalty they were seeking to get passed on the person they falsely accused. As it was stealing, the amount could be doubled.
Objection: What about the offenders who have nothing? How will they repay their victims?
Answer: The majority of offenders would not be in this situation…at least in more affluent countries…though for sure there would be some. Getting payments from such people highlights the need for a mechanism.
For those with sufficient wealth/property that can be realised for restitution payments, all that is needed is for the realisation to occur and the payments made. The courts need to be empowered to compel this and to have the will to carry it out. There are a number of ways they could do this. It could be paid on conviction at the court, and the offender walks out free.
For those without sufficient wealth/property, some way needs to be made for the victim to be put right immediately, and for the offender to pay over time. Those victims who get robbed by wealthy thieves should not be advantaged (in that they will be paid up immediately) relative to those who get robbed by poor ones (who won’t be able to pay up immediately). If this model is pursued, it securely links the victim to the offender.
I think there needs to be a separation between actual victim and actual offender. That is why I propose a fund be put between the offender and victim so all victims can be treated equally – that is they will all be paid up immediately on conviction of the offender. As I suspect the majority of restitution payments (those from wealth able to be realised immediately) would be made quickly into such a fund, the fund would be largely self sustaining. Perhaps an initial injection of funds would have to be made at the start, and periodically thereafter to compensate for slower payments into the fund from those who have nothing. Perhaps all restitution payments should have an amount added on to cover running costs of the fund. After all, the fund would exist because of the existence of offenders so why should they not pay towards its maintenance? Alternatively the running costs of the fund could be seen as a legitimate cost on the population for the running of the justice system.
Objection: But wouldn’t the system discriminate in favour of wealthy thieves? They can pay up immediately whereas the poor couldn’t.
Answer: Biblically, the courts were to be blind as to the material status, or societal status, of the offenders or victims. ‘Do not show favouritism to a poor man in his law suit.’ Exodus 23v3 – ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great, but judge your neighbour fairly.’ Lev 19v15 – ‘Do not show partiality in judging: hear both small and great alike.’ Deut 1v17. For sure the rich could pay out and not suffer ongoing consequences as the poor would, but that is irrelevant to justice. The poor should realise that this will happen and not offend. Contrary to some popular beliefs, poverty does not justify crime. In some cases, poverty may be regarded as mitigating circumstances but even this is highly questionable since it lacks a Biblical basis.
Objection: What about insurances? Don’t people insure against theft etc. What would happen to this.
Answer: Insurance is about covering against risk and this would still apply. There would still be risks but of a different sort. Restitution payments would replace a lot of insurance claims. Insurances would shake down to cover losses in a different way than at present. For example, not all crimes are solved so insurance could be taken out to protect against this happening. If insurance payments were made out and then the crime was subsequently solved, the amount paid out by the insurance company could be reclaimed back from the courts on conviction of the offender. Insurance premiums are likely to be much lower.
Objection: If insurance payments had to wait until a offender was convicted, wouldn’t people be waiting a long time until they were made right.
Answer: Only if the judicial system moved slowly. At present victims get little or nothing from the judicial system and many are not covered comprehensively by insurance, so anything would be an improvement. However there should be a commitment to seeing trials proceed faster than they do. Justice delayed is in a sense justice denied for all involved.
Objection: What if offenders, though guilty, plead innocent to try and avoid restitution payments?
Answer: For acceptance of responsibility and admission of guilt, the standard double restitution could apply. If an offender pleaded innocent but was found to be guilty – in other words they had lied to the court, there could be an added penalty, say repayment of three times the amount. This would provide an incentive to tell the truth. The justice system should be about truth finding and truth telling, not technicalities for avoiding punishment. The truth needs to be encouraged and incentives for doing so provided.
Question: Are you saying that the payment of restitution is the only penalty. Shouldn’t there be something else as well?
Answer: Why should there be something else? The covering of all costs and losses incurred by the victim is the penalty, and is all that is required.
Question: You’ve suggested the term ‘Victim Restoration’ as a name to identify the approach you have outlined. Is this term original, or is there a history to it?
Answer: The term ‘Victim Restoration’ is a new term. The term ‘Restorative Justice’ has been around for quite few years now and I for one have been dissatisfied with it…as already stated…because it is non-specific and has been taken up by all sorts of people and used to mean all sorts of different things. In struggling to clearly identify a Biblically based system with its focus on the putting right of the victims of crime, I was reluctant to use this term. Something more specific was needed, more clearly identifying the Biblical systems focus, and less open to manipulative uses should be generated.
It needed to clearly identify the victim and so the word ‘victim’ had to be included. But then what was it about the victim that needed emphasising? Well it was that the victim should be restored as much as possible to the state they were in prior to the crime. Thus I coined the term ‘Victim Restoration’. I am satisfied this term is far less open to manipulation, and far more clearly identifies the intent of the Biblical model than does the term ‘Restorative Justice’.
Question: But doesn’t ‘victim restoration’ forget about restoration of the offender?
Answer: Most definitely not. It is just that the offender no longer is the focus. I would argue strongly, as I have done, that the very best way of restoring offenders is to require them to take responsibility for putting their victims right. One of the very disappointing things in a case of offending against my own family by a young man of about 16 years old, was that the offender was not given any opportunity to make us, his victims, right. Actually our family were only five of his many victims. Now the court may let offenders off doing that…putting victims right…and the one who offended us did not do anything by himself to correct the situation…yet I am convinced this failure to restore victims is carried by the offender as a maybe unidentified psychological load of guilt or shame, or similar. Did it contribute to the one who offended against us killing himself six months later? I suspect so. No opportunity had been given him to make atonement at a human level, i.e, via victim restoration. In fact the eight social work/justice department people who were at the ‘family group conference’ called to deal with the offending, all pled that Jonny was a victim and made excuses for him.
Despite our best will in the world, many offenders do not want to be corrected. So be it. We can’t force them. However what we can force them to do is contribute to making their victims right. This we should enforce.
Question: But doesn’t using a new term…one without a history…put any who adopt it out onlimb? Won’t people have difficulty understanding what is being said?
Answer: Two things.
- Yes, it does put any who use it ‘out on a limb’, and that is to their advantage, because the term would intitally, only be used by them.
- I would dispute that people will not know what is being talked about. The term ‘Victim Restoration’ has a clearly defined meaning inherent in the very words themselves.
All such terms once upon a time had no history. Everyone of them was at some time dreamed up by someone and then launched into circulation.
Numerous terms down through the years have encapsulated an idea in a catchy simple phrase. ‘Survival of the fittest’. ‘Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’. “Irreducible complexity.’ ‘Family Values’, etc, etc.
This term, ‘victim restoration’, belongs to whoever wants to use it. They can have a jump on everyone else with it. They can make sure that it is used widely and get it into circulation and get identified as ‘the Victim Restoration’ people. Once others see the way people warm to the concept encapsulated in the term they may begin using it as well. Opportunities like this don’t come all that often.
Question: What approach will be taken with repeat offenders?
Answer: It all depends. For example, if the original offence was relatively minor and the offender was not put in any sort of containment, a repeat offence could warrant containment. There could be all whole series of levels of containment, and the degree of containment would increase with the degree of recidivism.
Question: What value does your proposed system of justice place on incarceration?
Answer: The focus is turned right away from incarceration as the penalty. In most cases it is utterly unproductive. It would still be needed but only for those who are dangerous to the community and those who repeat offend.
Some Biblical verses that relate to justice and injustice:
Ps 9:8 ‘He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.’
Ps 45:6 ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.’
Pr 29:26 ‘Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the LORD that man gets justice.’
Jeremiah 9:23-24 ‘This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.’
Isa 30:18 ‘Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!’
Isaiah 59 :1-16 ‘Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace.
So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.’
Am 5:7 ‘You who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground…’
Am 5:12 ‘For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.’
Am 5:15 ‘Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.’
Am 5:24 ‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’
Am 6:12 ‘Do horses run on the rocky crags? Does one plow there with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness –‘
Mt 12:18 ‘”Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.’
Mt 12:20 ‘A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.’
Mt 23:23 ‘”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.’
Ac 17:31 ‘For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”’