Sie sind auf Seite 1von 4

ENG 4U

Hamlet

The Four Rs of Justice


When a person or a group is violated in some way, the desired response may be an impulse toward
one or more of the following outcomes (aside from no reaction at all):

revenge
retribution
rehabilitation
restoration

Revenge, which includes vigilantism, is the act of taking justice into ones own hands.
Many students call this, eye for an eye, without knowing the history of the term or having
knowledge of its implications.
Retribution, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, means something given or
demanded in repayment, especially punishment. The western legal system is based on this
idea, as it encourages human rights and the rule of law. Sentences are exacted for the
purpose of punishing the offender to the degree with which it fits the crime. In legal terms,
the crime becomes a violation of the state, rather than the victim(s).
Rehabilitation is based on the belief that one may have the potential to change his or her
behavior or way of thinking through therapy or education.
Restoration promotes individual and societal healing. Its main objective is to restore
whatever was lost to the victim, the offender and the community.
Revenge
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord
- Romans 12:19
Inherent in the word revenge is the notion of justice, usually violent, meted out by, or on behalf of,
the victim of a wrongdoing against the perpetrator.
Revenge is a common theme throughout literature, with its earliest depictions taking root in ancient
and classical works, and notably, that of religious texts.
Some myths to consider:
Hera disguises herself to Zeus lover, Semele, and tricks her into forcing Zeus to kill her.
Artemis exacts revenge on King Calydon for not honouring him with a sacrifice. He sets a
rampaging boar loose to ravish the Kings land. A group of heroes go after the boar and
kill it, and a chain of events is set forth beginning with the question of who deserves the
reward for killing it. Many die as a result of individuals avenging loved ones whove been
killed in the argument.
When Cassiopeia boasts that she is more beautiful than the nymphs, Poseidon takes revenge
by sending a flood and a sea monster to ravage the land.
The Etruscans had their own god of revenge, named Veive.
Vidar avenges his fathers murder and becomes the Norse god of revenge.
The Furies were goddesses of revenge, punishing those who defied or escaped justice. They
pursue the guilty until theyre driven mad.
Aphrodite takes revenge on the women of Lemnos for failing to honour her, cursing them with
a foul odor. The women decide to exact their own revenge by killing all of Lemnos men.
Out of Rome, came the playwright Seneca, who set the standard for revenge tragedies. William
Shakespeare was influenced by this genre, as is evidenced in his plays, Hamlet and Titus Andronicus.
Basically, a character in each revenge tragedy is grievously wronged by a powerful figure and has no
recourse to the law. Hence, an act of vengeance is committed in spite of the consequences. The
characters were always written such that they would have the sympathies of their audience. Its
interesting to note that during the time of the revenge tragedies, the idea of revenge went against
Rehm

The Four Rs of Justice

Page 1 of 4

ENG 4U

Hamlet

the political authority of the state. Revenge was considered a sin and the avengers soul would be in
jeopardy, but audiences loved it anyway.
In contemporary literature, and especially the cinema, the revenge tragedy shows itself repeatedly.
There are certain elements of revenge that seem to be common denominators in its literary
depictions. For instance, the hero is usually compelled by a sense of alienation from the larger
society, as well as a need to uphold some sense of honor.
In every civilization, there have been times when the people felt justice was somehow being denied.
Coupled with a sense of powerlessness and rage, vigilantes would take matters into their own hands,
no matter what the cost. Occasionally, and within certain cultures, vigilante justice was tolerated,
and had even found its way into folktales (e.g. Robin Hood).
Rehabilitation
The criminal court for child offenders is based on the doctrine of fear, degradation
and punishment. It was, and is, absurd. The Juvenile Court was founded on the
principle of love. We assumed that the child had committed not a crime, but a mistake,
and that he deserved correction, not punishment. Of course, there is firmness and
justice, for without these there would be danger in leniency. But there is no justice
without love.
-Judge Ben Lindsey, the founder of the Denver Juvenile Court
The criminal justice system focuses on the answers to these questions:
What laws were broken?
Who is responsible?
What punishment do they deserve?
Juvenile justice deals with other questions, due in large part to its history - questions such as:
How can we protect the child?
How can we reform the child?
While programs exist within this system that may be restorative or reformative by nature, they must
subsist within the confines of the mainstream judicial process. If a juvenile is convicted of a crime,
they must be adjudicated, detained and be made to serve a prescribed amount of time under the
states care.
Differences Between Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems:

The ideal goal of juvenile court is to protect and rehabilitate rather than to punish.
Juveniles can be detained for certain things that are not considered criminal for adults, such
as possessing alcohol.
Juvenile court proceedings are somewhat informal and private. Criminal court proceedings
are not.
Families are more often involved in juvenile cases.
Adults have a right to a jury trial, while juveniles do not.
Juveniles can be searched without a warrant or without probable cause.
For juveniles, there is no death penalty.
An adults records are permanent, while a juveniles record is sealed upon reaching adult age.

Retribution
"...the state all men are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and
dispose of possessions and persons as they see fit. Civil authority is a proper remedy for the
inconvenience of the state of nature. Every man or government is in a state of nature when there
exists no civil authority to settle a dispute between them. They have not surrendered themselves to
a common judge."

Rehm

The Four Rs of Justice

Page 2 of 4

ENG 4U

Hamlet

- John Locke in Treatise on Law and Government, 1690


Retribution is the outcome desired in our legal system. You do the crime; you pay the time, as it is
known to students. When a crime is committed, the questions to be answered are:

What laws were broken?


Who broke the laws?
How will they be punished?

When a crime is committed, and it is processed through the criminal courts, it officially becomes an
offense against the state, rather than the victim or victims. There are rehabilitation programs within
the penal system, and serve as qualifiers for release from the facility or from probation.
Retributive justice can be traced back to Biblical times (Sterling), as in the Old Testament (Exodus
21:24), where the eye for an eye quote comes from. Its all about proportion- payback should
equal the harm caused. Also found in the Bible is the reference to a requirement that there be
witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6), and the concept of penalty by death (Deuteronomy 17:12-13).
The Romans, who many attribute the structure of modern law to (Sterling), were different from the
Christians and the Jews in that they did not think of man in relation to a Creator. Rather, their worldview was unitary, making each law relative and without some kind of fixed eternal principle.
Although some believe this ideology served the system well (keeping social order), the end result
was far from what many believed to be justice. It mainly upheld the idea of absolute power of the
state and had little to do with morality or whether the outcomes were just.
During the 13th century, moral guilt began playing a hand in jurisprudence, when the reformed ideas
within the Catholic church resurrected such concepts as fault and the existence of a guilty mind.
These principles found their way into English Common Law. Many were later influenced by John
Lockes Treatise on Law and Government, which proposed the idea that the nature of man is that
which needs some type of external restraint, such as laws.
For the last three hundred years, the ideas of two particular men have remained the most significant
influences on modern law. A legal scholar by the name of Sir William Blackstone, and a legal
reformist named Jeremy Bentham, were contemporaries around the turn of the 19th century in
England. They had very different philosophies, yet their ideas were very influential. Justice was now
to be considered retributive, explicitly. Their writings also proposed that an effective justice system
would declare what is right and correct what was wrong (Sterling), among other things.
During the colonial period, enlightenment philosophy gave birth to jury nullification, which took much
of the judicial power away from leadership and put it in the hands of the people, to a point. As John
A. Sterling, a prominent legal scholar puts it, The power of the judge was balanced against the
power of the jury; the citizen against the state; the state against the federal government.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Supreme Court Justice in the 1800s, was the first to enforce the idea that
criminal intent was irrelevant and that if a law is broken, the punishment should serve as a deterrent
to others.
Restoration
For centuries, Native Americans have practiced a tradition where members of a gathering pass a
talking stick around in a circle to signal whose turn it is to contribute to the discussion at hand.
Whoever has the stick has the undivided attention of the others and can speak without interruption.
This helps to keep a natural and unforced pace to the discussion, while at the same time ensuring
the opportunity for all to contribute. Through consensus-building, the group decides on a course of
action which may hold the promise of healing for those involved, as well as the community.
Justice Circles gather together all those involved in a criminal case, along with any concerned
community members so that all may contribute to an exploration of the pain and damage the
criminal act has brought to the community. This is done within an atmosphere of respect, even for
the offender. The goal of this particular type of talking circle is to come up with ways, again, through
Rehm

The Four Rs of Justice

Page 3 of 4

ENG 4U

Hamlet

consensus-building, for those involved to restore to the community what was lost as a result of the
criminal act. It focuses on the healing of the victim, the victims family, the offender, the offenders
family, and the community.
Circle Justice is one form of what is called restorative justice, a movement whose goal is to promote
and facilitate communal healing in the face of violence. The structure of a Justice Circle is such that
participants sit in a circle facing one another. The circle symbolizes equity for all, connection and
inclusion.
The circle process typically involves four stages:

Acceptance The community decides if the case is appropriate for a Justice Circle.
Preparation Special interest circles are formed to prepare for the big one. Issues and
concerns are addressed, and supporters are identified.
Gathering All parties are brought together to express feelings and concerns and to build
consensus on acceptable solutions to issues that arise having to do with the offense.
Follow-up Regular communication and check-ins are used to assess progress and adjust
agreements as conditions change.

Keepers facilitate the process, and they set the tone of respect and hopefulness throughout. Keepers
are responsible for communicating these basic principles of Circle Justice:

Everything that comes up in the circles stays in the circles.


Everyone speaks with respect for others and their words.
Everyone must actively listen
All members must commit for the duration of the circle.

The Keeper acknowledges, through ritual, the sacredness of the space. The culture from which this
process derives from makes this way toward justice more of a spiritual one, which is probably why it
has not quickly taken root in mainstream society. This is much more of a holistic approach to justice,
and its nature demands that all spiritual experiences be respected. Our criminal justice system does
not even hold in it the vocabulary of the spiritual realm.
In many places, Circle Justice is taking root within the criminal justice system. They work by bringing
together the community, the victims, the offender, and the families of those involved and they deal
with the many issues that lead up to the crime. Those involved are vested in the hope that mutual
responsibility will promote the healing and well-being of all.

Rehm

The Four Rs of Justice

Page 4 of 4