Let's reform our justice system© 26 December 2018 Marthijn Uittenbogaard
In The Netherlands a girl of sixteen years old was shot dead eight days ago. She was shot at school by a man that stalked her. He already was convicted for stalking her and he was not allowed to see her. The man also had posted a photo online where he was holding two guns. The girl had made another appointment with the police to file a complaint. Forty-five minutes before this appointed with the police, she was shot dead. Ten days ago she made this appointment, but the police thought it was not necessarily to immediately come into action. I myself had my windows thrown in, or with a firework bomb my front door blown up, and I was threatened a lot of times. In such cases you call the police, but you never can file an official complaint immediately. You always need to make an appointment. So one, or sometimes two weeks later, you can tell exactly what happened. I find it absurd that you can not always go to the police to make an official complaint. Now the police loses time and they must interpret the complaint by phone. It is always possible that at the police station, two weeks later, they will find out that the complaint is much more serious than they thought it to be. In such cases they already lost a lot of precious time.
There are many crimes where the police does nothing about them. When you file a complaint about your bike being stolen: it is only for the insurance company. The police usually does nothing about bicycles being stolen. Even a burglary in your home: the police does nothing. Most of the police capacity goes into fighting drugs. Because the United States of America started a drugs war, they ordered the whole Western World to join this war and so we did. But everyone with a common sense knows this war is only for the people in power. When someone wants to buy drugs he or she can do so. No matter how many billions spend on the drugs war: it only makes some people rich and the state gets power (and money too). Tens of thousands of people are killed due to this war. Some whole countries suffer tremendously. We need to legalize drugs and help drug addicts and the drugs must have some safety conditions. Now there is sometimes XTC, or something else sold that is so dangerous, that the police must make a statement to inform the public about it. My advice though: don't use drugs. But fighting a war on drugs is insane.
Second thing we need to legalize is sex. No special sex laws are needed. No age of consent laws, no special prostitution laws, no laws about how to dress in public, no pornography laws: just get rid of them. Forcing someone to have sex with, stays a crime. But we already have laws against violence. We don't need a morality police. In The Netherlands we have a special task force called zedenpolitie, which means moral police. This moral police is dealing with sex laws only.
OK, now we have police that can go after people that steal bicycles, people that break into your home, et cetera. A society needs this kind of police. Otherwise we will lose our faith in the system. And making an official complaint can anytime, day and night, at the police station. And the police must stop stalking people like me. I did nothing wrong but they stalk me for over ten years. Everywhere I go. They need to get their priorities right. It can save lives.
Reform is also needed when it comes to court cases. All court cases have to be public. Secret courts are never allowed. So cases dealing with state secrets are brought to a public court case or they are not brought to a judge at all. These are the only two choices. Otherwise the state can declare more and more a secret and you will get a Kafka society were more and more civilians suffers by the system.
Deals between prosecutors and people that (possibly) did something wrong are forbidden. Big companies nowadays buy of their cases. People make deals afraid of the possible higher penalties in a court case, sometimes even when they are innocent. That is no justice at all. So, plea bargains et cetera, are forbidden. Also deals between a prosecutor and a criminal, in exchange for a lesser or no punishment at all, are forbidden. It leads to false testimonies and a crime will not be whitewashed when you know things about a more notorious criminal.
Someone standing trial must have enough time to speak in the court room. Nowadays people standing trial are part in a play, written by lawyers, prosecutors and judges. They themselves are usually very little allowed to speak during their own trial. They of course can be silence all the time if they choose so.
Prosecutors must find the truth. It is not their job to get someone convicted at all costs. No, if they have evidence that contradicts other evidence, they need to share it with the defending team and with the judge. It is also not their job to get the toughest penalty possible for someone who is guilty of a crime. Showing (some) humanity is a good thing. The prosecutors must inform the media correctly and they must be reluctant and formally. No lies, and sensation should lead a court case. The case is handled in the court room, not in the mass media. Interrogations must be filmed and the whole interrogation must be accessible by the defending team.
No juries and no judges elected by the public. You can not let people decide if anyone is guilty who are not trained in making such decisions. People from a jury now think someone is guilty just by the looks of that person. And judges must be appointed and not chosen by the public. A judge will otherwise sentence someone to prison just to get (re-)elected. Even knowing the defendant is innocent. An appointed judge is more free to make the right decisions.
No minimum sentences are allowed. There must exist a separation of powers (trias politica). With politicians starting to introduce minimum penalties for certain crimes, this separation of power is, for a great deal, lost. Too much power in the hands of one group always leads to abuse of power.
The maximum prison term a judge can order is twentyfive years in prison. This in multiple murder cases. After time served someone is free. Life in prison or the death penalty will be abolished. Furthermore, no maths with penalties. So if the maximum penalty for shop lifting is one year in prison, someone can never get ten times one year if the defendant shop lifted ten times.
No extra tough punishment when someone is a public figure to set an example. Every citizen is judged the same, famous or not famous, rich or poor, black or white et cetera.
People will not be extradited to countries with a terrible justice reputation. So a country should never extradite someone the a country where they have the death penalty or life in prison. The Netherlands have life in prison by the way. Between 1886-1945, thirtyfour people got life in prison, between 1945-1970, fourteen people and after 1980, fortytwo persons got life in prison. It is given more and more in recent years. (source: 'Levenslang' on Dutch Wikipedia)
Restorative justice is a good thing if possible. In cases where both the victim and the perpetrator can make an agreement, a court case is not needed anymore. When someone has killed another person a court case will always have to take place because a dead person can not come to an agreement anymore. Relatives, friends and family of a murdered person are not allowed to make such an agreement.
There will not be a public list of offenders. People who have served their time need not fear hatred and violence from neighbors that consulted such a list, on for example the internet.
People locked up in prison deserve a human treatment. Solitary confinement is cruel and should be abolished. Prisoners remain members of our society and they remain their voting rights, even when behind bars. Prisoners have the right to read everything they want. So no censorship in books, articles and so on. The treatment centers where 'mentally ill' people are being treated will be abolished. In The Netherlands, when you get TBS, every two years a judge will look at your case and the judge can decide to keep you locked up for another two years. This way some people are locked up for many years, sometimes even for life. This treatment system is poorly based on science and it is used as an instrument to keep people locked up (for life). Judges have to rely on the conclusions made by the 'professionals' that do the treatment. This system is cruel. People locked up should be offered help but only on a voluntarily basis and without any effect on their time to serve.
My Christmas wishes goes to every one locked up in a prison or in a mental health institute. Remember, you are not forgotten.
[Added 31 December 2018:] I forgot some important issues in the text above. I'm against civilians wearing guns. When that is the case and you get very angry, you can much easier kill people than when guns are prohibited. Another point is the difference in many countries between murder and manslaughter. Murder has a higher maximum penalty. I believe the maximum penalty should be the same. And my final point I want to make: the democratic state (with checks and balances and so on) should have the monopoly on the use of violence. When people start to form some sort of civilian police force, far right people, or religious people, then the real police should immediately come into action. We cannot let such groups to exist; this will prevent them to intimidate other civilians in their neighborhood.