Justice and fairness are frequently interchanged when what we mean to convey is a sense of fairness. It is fair that we give our children more attention than others, in general. Similarly being fair and equitable means that we go out of our way to make the same opportunities available to people across all societal demographics.
There are three types of justice: distributive, retributive and compensatory.
Taxes and social benefits ensure that society’s resources are shared between its members as needed. Some get more because they have less. Others receive less because they have more. This form of justice is becoming more difficult the more we subscribe to ideologies of globalisation. An example is how Australia seeks to balance the scales of the injustice by providing additional funding under the Closing the Gap policy to reduce Aboriginal disadvantage.
The justice system deals with retributive or corrective justice. The law ensures that punishments handed to offenders are both just and fair. More often than not, sadly there is little recourse for the victims of crime to receive just and fair support or compensation when their human rights have been violated. I am uncertain how to argue this point. On the one hand society and the law uphold the rights of offenders which seems fair and just. On the other victims tend to be left to battle it out as best they can which seems unfair and unjust. This leads to the third kind of justice – compensatory.
Compensatory justice seeks to have offenders make good the injuries caused to their victims. If justice is just then compensation would be proportionate to the loss incurred. It seems that justice is in short supply as we punish those who have offended yet abandon their victims.
Justice safeguards our social stability and is grounded in the notion of interdependence and respect. The stability of any group relies on individuals feeling they are being treated justly. When people feel they are not being unfairly treated it can rupture our communities and causes unrest until equilibrium is restored. Our dignity and rights are violated when we are treated unfairly.
Justice is not simply about punishment. It is about making things right.
This month I am participating in the A-Z Challenge. The challenge is to post six days a week during the month of April using a letter of the alphabet for each post. My theme during this challenge is that of values. You can find out more about the challenge here.