Many years ago now, I watched a film, based on rather more fact than fiction and that film had a devastating effect upon me. Now all these years later, I still walk in the shadow of that film and I know that this world holds a fragile kind of justice, without which, we are as savages cut from the cloth of our own yarn. Our justice system, a wafer thin line of uprightness, deprived of which, some of us would not have a chance, no chance to meet our victims again to give a second stab, or make a second stab at life, a second chance to make amends or a seconds breath before it ends, all too soon. No-one may ultimately predict with 100% accuracy the workings of the human mind and how does one weigh justice without being party to the crime and how does one retrospectively gauge the clarity of a man’s intention?
Those invisible strands of life illustrated by our casual unchallenged breath are yet more delicately balanced than that of our justice system. If one pertinent and interlocked piece breaks down, the whole of the body of law stops being effective, in much the same way as each and every one of our bodies may too. The human that makes an error of judgement may be tried and do time for the crime and, upon reflection, could resolve to make amends. To err is human, but how to judge the workings of the human mind or their reasoning at such a time, to derive a judgement of their intention. Where laws are imposed and created by humans, that human may also make an error of judgement.
We have seen numerous cases of wrongful handling throughout the arrest process to that of the ultimate sentence. Perhaps, the reason why I find myself unable, with a clear conscience, to countenance killing anyone for justice – even an eye-witnessed criminal, is that I find myself unable to trust humanity in general and first and foremost the people who are often asked to make a ‘best guess’ based upon evidence provided, which is ultimately all that one can ask of anyone. Not just the twelve good men and true but the whole process is reliant upon the human hand and that hand is weighted only with its own, personal wealth of experience. There is no apology that resurrects the beat of the human heart, or breathes life into bones that are already turning to dust.
To kill a man in this way must make a new killer whose hand is unstable when he thinks of the enormity of what is done and cannot be undone. A fresh killer who lives with the what if …. and the hope that what was done might be the result of a body of law working at its most efficient in order to churn out a verdict without error. A new killer who will have gained more than a little insight into the delicate balance of the justice system, that will be haunted by encountering his own fragile mortality, for there, but for the grace of God, also go you or I.