Justice has been one of the essential aspects of life, specifically in the motive to create a peaceful and fair environment for everyone worldwide. That in mind, the term justice has drawn a lot of attention regarding how it is defined and applied. One of the acceptable definitions of justice, therefore, is “a system or rather a scheme of law where each gets their due from the system regarding every right, both legal and natural” (Haidt & Graham, 2007). Morals, referring to the personal beliefs of what is right or wrong, sometimes differ with the ethics, which is explained as those acceptable standards and values which a given society or setting base their respective decisions. Justice, therefore, could be relative depending on the morals and ethics of different individuals and communities, but still, the core objective of justice is to balance these variations such that there is an inclusiveness of both the ethics and morals of society. There are also various values that complement the application and delivery of justice in the contemporary system of life. For instance, the element of preventive justice being better than severe punishment, the fact that justice must neither be delayed nor denied, the realization that nobody can assume themselves the authority of making a decision on their cases, are considerably in seeking the true meaning of justice. Another important idea is justice being a continuous and perpetual way of rendering every person their rights (Durkheim, 2013). Some elites even came up with supplementary concepts concerning justice. Some of these include: that law refers to the science of whatever is just and acceptable. Also, justice comes before power, and can never be preceded by it, that doing every other person justice at any given time and place is the biggest charity act, and that nobody should receive any advantage from their offenses.
As such, there are various instances and scenarios which reveal how justice works in different circumstances. Several authors have tried bringing out the evolution of law practices which incorporated the need for and the delivery of justice. Harper Lee is one of such writers who have included justice as one of the main themes in their works. In her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, she reveals several situations in which justice was required and how such justice was reached. Her book displays justice during the time in which the book is set not as a right, but instead as a privilege. This is evident in the scene where some amateur whites acting as jury, makes a decision of a case way before getting inside the courtroom, the judgment seen to be meant to be fair only to the white citizens even if it meant infringing on the justice of the black men. This points out the primary aspect of justice being the racial discrimination towards the black men, Tom Robinson appearing to be the one affected the most by this kind of injustice. But again, we realize how the residents of Maycomb victimize the Ewell family, considering them garbage.
Tom faced an accusation of rape, but it seems that the trial in which he thought he could be heard became a mere formality. It became almost impossible for him, being black, to speak for himself, but if he did, his words could not change the minds of the white jury. During that time, a white man’s word was so superior to the black man’s, and there were no way a black’s claims could be considered valid by the white men who believed they had full powers over the Negros (Shields, 2007). Tom is later charged and imprisoned despite hardly being given any fair hearing, and when he tried escaping the prison, he was painfully murdered by one of the prison officers. This killing was not intended to stop him from escaping, but it was due to the hatred and social injustice that controlled Maycomb at that time, just as reckoned by Heck Tate when he said “… The murder of Tom is a perfect example of the way the black community was victimized by social injustice”. Tom talked about justice before his demise, saying, “… as you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life…”. All these arguments and experiences from Tom Robinson, the jury, and the prison guards clearly indicate the idea of justice, but mainly focusing on how it was not received by a particular group of people living in Maycomb.
Additionally, justice is also revealed in the movie ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.’ Here, the issue of justice appears to be shown regarding how it is influenced by confessions which have been coerced by parties of interest. To understand this, we find out that Omar Pena confesses, but the confession is found to have been drawn out of him by Benson. Even though there was some possibility of Pena’s innocence, Benson did not stop to imagine that there could have been a mistake in forcing Pena to make the confession (Dwyer & Fiorillo, 2007). It is thereby a fact that to give and receive justice in a case of confessions; the confessor ought to have their minds and be willing to confess, unlike in this case where we see Benson try to pull out forcefully the confession words from Pena. In such a case, the confessor may not give accurate and genuine confessions, but instead, just confess anything to please people like Mrs. Benson.
In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the requirements and the application of law in Salem did not prioritize justice as a factor. In the town, complainants are always considered right. For example, we see Thomas Putnam with his wife accusing or inducing people to accuse others for their selfish desires. In another scene, we discover how Abigail Williams tries to finish the woman she considered her opponent, making the rest of the women follow her in fear of finding trouble in Salem. But the thing about Salem court is its tendency of only questioning the accused person, and considering the accuser as ever correct, and even sometimes the judges share meals with such accusers (Bloom, 2008). No one else apart from the jury realized the intention behind the trials, which evidently were not meant to bring justice, but instead to explicitly punish the ones accused to remove a vice, e.g. witchcraft in this case. The people accepted these rulings so as to do away with witchcraft which was against their morals and ethics, not considering that the accusers may not be right at all times.
In summary, the delivery of justice does not apply in totality. Different settings also have experienced separate sides of justice. In some cases discussed above, the idea of justice as defined is not properly executed by those delivering rulings of respective cases. Therefore, it is worth noting how justice is highly connected to the ethics and moral values existing in a given setting.
Bloom, H. (2008). Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Infobase Publishing.
Durkheim, E. (2013). Professional ethics and civic morals. Routledge.
Dwyer, K., & Fiorillo, J. (2007). True Stories of Law and Order: SVU. Penguin.
Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20(1), 98-116.
Shields, C. J. (2007). Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. Macmillan.