Posts Tagged ‘Justice’

Fair’s fair and just is right, but justice systems are to do harm to a select few

June 20, 2020

This started out as an explanation of the difference in usage between just and fair, but has ended up as a journey from fair to just to justness to justice and thence to justice systems.

Just and fair are often conflated. But justness and fairness are different things and justice is something else again. The qualities of justness and fairness give rise to being just and fair respectively, but the corresponding action deriving from the quality of justice is doing justice.

  • fair/unfair, from fairness/unfairness,
  • just/unjust, from justness/injustice1,
  • justice/injustice2

are all quite distinct and different. The antonym for justness I take to be injustice1, which is not quite the same thing as the opposite of justice (injustice2).

What both fair and just have in common is that they cannot exist except as reactions to the prior conceptions of unjust and unfair. These must come first. .Just and fair both then represent, but separately, states of balance in human interactions. The abstract quality of being fair is fairness and that of being just is justness. Justice is, however, something else and not necessarily fair or just. But justice too follows from a conception of injustice2 which must come first.

A justice system is something else again. 

A just universe?

In the physical universe, the concepts of just and fair are undefined and have no meaning. The natural laws are neither fair nor just; they merely are. It is human cognition together with human interactions which give rise to the need for these concepts to exist. In the physical world, the closest analogy to the concepts of just and fair are equilibrium and balance. The universe came into being, (whether by accident or by design), following an initiating impulse which created the Great Imbalance. All events since then are in pursuit of balance; of seeking a state of equilibrium. All change is a result of some imbalance. Once equilibrium is achieved nothing happens. Nothing can happen. All of physics and chemistry and biology are about changes brought about by non-equilibrium states followed by events which are always in the pursuit of balance. We derive the natural laws from observations of change around us. They are all about events caused by imbalances, which seek to reduce the causing imbalance. Without imbalance there would be no motion, no vibration, no radiation and no change of any kind. They all cease with equilibrium. Even the very existence of matter is due to disturbances (imbalances) in fields. All existence is a chain of succeeding imbalances, a transience. All life is transient. Change pursuant to one imbalance leads to further imbalances, which lead to further changes, and so on ad infinitum.  There is no certainty that the chain of changes will, or must, converge. Attaining a final, universal equilibrium may not happen very quickly (and possibly may never happen). Whether time emerges from change, or time causes change, the flow of time is itself a manifestation of some, as yet unknown, imbalance. The universe – while it exists – is in a “permanently” transient state. All science is about understanding the state of the universe and its patterns of change, while human engineering and technology are about harnessing the transients as the natural forces pursue equilibrium. Change is impossible without imbalance. If, and when, all the imbalances are removed, even atoms will cease to vibrate and the universe will come to an end. All would be in equilibrium; motionless; unchanging; timeless. It would be the ultimate stasis.

The universe just is, but just it is not.


Fair is meaningless without a conception of unfair. Any definition of fair must first go through defining what it is not. Fairness is about a qualitative balance assessed between positions along the benefit – harm value scale, as perceived by an individual. Fairness is about the balance and not about the level of harm or the position along the value scale. Strict equivalence is not a requirement. However while fair describes a balance anywhere along the scale, unfair is always accompanied by a greater level of perceived harm on one side of the imbalance.

It is nearly always about people. It is always about balance though a comparison with a standard or norm may be implied. It is thought that the concept of fairness may even be hard-wired into our brains. (Fairness and equality are sometimes interchanged but they are also quite different things and equal is not necessarily just or fair). For an individual, the assessment of fairness can often seem to emanate from “gut” emotions. It is, however, a composite cognitive assessment; an application of reason, even if sometimes made to some extent in the sub-conscious. The assessment is along a harm-benefit value scale which is itself a composite scale. It is subjective and specific to every individual. Fairness includes assessments for, among many other values, equity, wealth, proportion, beauty, worth, privilege, ability, performance, reward and penalty. (Actions causing harm such as discrimination, cheating, favoritism and the like are usually unfair, except when they are overridden by political correctness). The assessed balance may apply 

  • to transactions (fair deal, wages, value, share, offer, ..), or
  • to the states of individuals or groups of individuals (unfair wealth, misery, poverty, sickness, ..), or
  • to their actions (fair blow, play, throw, catch, ….) , or
  • to the behaviour they receive or don’t receive (fair treatment, chance, review, hearing, assessment, result, ….).

(There are other meanings of fair – a market fair, fair weather, fair skin, etc. – but these are not considered here). Strict equivalence is not a requirement for a balance to be considered fair. Sometimes, but rarely, the comparison may be relative to some expected standard rather than between people.

What is fair then depends upon each individual’s own set of values. Different values or sets of values give differing assessments of fairness. Giving different weights to different values would change the assessment of fairness. What appears fair to me today may not seem fair to a different observer or even to me at a different time. The ability to assess fairness is clearly a function of cognition. Sometimes we do extend the quality of fairness in our descriptions of the animal world. But in the animal world, it seems that only some of the primates (chimpanzees for example) may have some vague notion of the concept of fairness.  Whenever there is a collective human assessment of what is fair, it is built up from developing some form of consensus from the various individual assessments of fairness. But the assessments by individuals must come first. 

Fairness, at its core, emanates from individual cognition and an individual’s set of values and the application of those values to a comparison and an assessment of balance. Unfair may contribute to wrongness but is not necessarily improper or illegal or immoral.


Just and justness, on the other hand, only emerge in a societal context. They too are defined through their antonyms. They always involve a judgement by, or with reference to, some authority. A judgement necessarily requires speaking from authority, but it may be explicit or implicit. While an individual can have an assessment of fairness without necessarily referring to a society, an individual’s perception of unjust needs reference to a surrounding society. The value scale is now of a formal wrongness where some societal authority defines the just-unjust value scale which, in turn is, a composite of various aspects of wrongness. The scale is open at the unjust end but cannot exceed beyond just. (A reference to more just is not an excess of justness but actually about less unjust).

The authority may be explicit, emanating from a prevailing power in a society (setting laws, rules, regulations, instructions, ..), or implicit, when the judgement is based on moral or religious or societal authority (correctness, morality, conscience, convention, ..). Correct, or proper, or moral, or legal, or deserved are all judgements made from a position of authority. Justness is still about balance, but a balance against a measure of wrongness based on societal rules originating from some authority (governments, religions, gods,  …). It also begins by first having a concept of what what just is not. To be assessed as unjust must always include this element of formal wrongness. Wrongness is a composite judgement which includes one or more of being incorrect, improper, unfair, illegal, immoral or undeserved. These assessments are not compared, in the first instance, between humans but against societal norms as decreed by authority. The weight given to different aspects of wrongness determines the position on the just-unjust scale. At least one component of wrongness is necessary but may not be sufficient for being unjust. Thus (unfair + deserved) may be just while (fair + illegal) may be unjust. It is not implausible, for example, that an action which is improper, incorrect, immoral and unfair, but which is compliant with law, escapes being labeled as unjustUnfair is silent about wrongness and becomes unjust only if it is also adjudged to be sufficiently negative on the wrongness scale. Unjust is not necessarily harmful or unfair.

It is doubtful if any other species we know of makes the leap from fair to just. I make the distinction between justness and fairness primarily by differentiating between the individual and the collective (society) and on the different value scales in play. Fairness is a judgement of balance while justness is a measure of formal wrongness. I can judge what is fair, but some authority within society must be called upon to determine what is just.

Fair = balanced along the harm-benefit value scale as perceived by an individual’s set of values

Just = not negative along the just-unjust, wrongness scale as determined by some societal authority


The primary meaning of the word justice as a noun is: “the achieving or maintenance of what is just”. However the word also has other meanings such as a judge, the maintenance of law, the quality of being just (justness), correctness or a justice system. I take only the primary meaning here: “the achieving or maintenance of what is just”. (I have more to say about justice systems later).

The philosophical concept of justice arises only because injustice is first perceived to exist as an imbalance in human relations within a society.  A society without any perception of injustice could not, from nothingness, dream up a concept of justice. Just as a creature without vision could not dream up the concept of red. Human societies pride themselves on having a sense of justice and on their institutionalized systems of justice. Most would claim the objective of striving for a just world. But in a completely just world the concept of justice vanishes, just as in a universe at equilibrium, change – and therefore the universe – vanish. Justice cannot exist without injustice first being perceived as an imbalance within a society. A paradox lies in that while the pursuit of justice is a cherished part of the human identity, in a perfectly just world, the concept of justice could not emerge. It follows that a perfectly just world could only contain a humanity which had no conception of injustice.

The Justinian definition that justice is “the constant and perpetual will to render to each his due” is 1,500 years old, but is still valid and as good a theoretical description of justice (as the maintenance of what is just), as any. “To each his due” requires a judgement from an authority competent to decide what is due. “To each” also implies everybody. Theoretically, justice should then be the pursuit of a state of justness where everybody gets their due – good, bad or indifferent. As a synonym for justness, justice ought to be as much about due reward as it is about due penalty. In practice, however, justice is predominantly about what is due for wrongness rather than what may be due for rightness. In common usage, justice is about the righting of undue wrongs, and very seldom about rendering of due rewards. When reward does engage justice, it is more often as an injustice consequent to a reward denied. It is sometimes seen as a property of the law. But that doesn’t really work since not everything compliant with law is necessarily just. Law specifies the wrongness scale but is not, actually, about the quality of wrongness. Whereas justness should be equally about due punishment and due reward, justice is predominantly about what is due for that wrongness which is adjudged sufficiently wrong to be labeled unjust.

In current practice, justice is no longer about what is due to everyone and is restricted to be what is due to every wrongdoer. Justice is now just a sub-set of justness. Justinian’s definition has effectively been modified.

justice = “the constant and perpetual will to render to each wrongdoer his due”

Justice Systems

Justice systems are always societal constructs made or maintained by the prevailing power. They are made up of institutions and procedures in a society, established by law, and concerned solely with the enforcement of law. Whether it is a system established by a sporting club (discipline committee), or a company (grievance process) or the full-blown paraphernalia of a state (Justice System), it does not deal, except as a corollary, with fairness or justness or even justice. It is only concerned with a portion of that fraction of unjust or injustice which is illegal. To the extent that law is imperfect and not all laws are just or fair, it also deals with just or fair acts which happen to be illegal. Justice and The Law are shrouded in a halo of sanctity which is a mirage. There is nothing absolute or fundamental or divine about the justice pursued by justice systems.  It emerges in the context of a society and varies with time, society and the prevailing power. A justice system is not so much about attaining a state of justness as it is about being seen to be addressing some of those who have done harm and have created societal imbalances. It is a highly pragmatic, societal construct for the visible disbursement of future harm to a select few formally adjudged to have done something illegal which has caused harm.

One could hope that a justice system would promote a general state of justness in society but that would be entirely delusional. One might think, more practically, that a justice system existed to promote a Justinian form of justice in a society, where everybody got their due, but even that would be hopelessly naive. The UK Ministry of Justice “definition” reads like a corporate mission statement written by a PR hack: “The purpose of the Criminal Justice System… is to deliver justice for all, by convicting and punishing the guilty and helping them to stop offending, while protecting the innocent”. 

Consider first how limited the scope of application of any justice system actually is.

  • Start with all received behaviour and actions where either harm or benefit is caused and something “is due”, (All events = N)
  • Then take those unjust instances where received behaviour has caused harm and can be labeled wrong. It is only a guesstimate but this is certainly less than 50% of all events and more than 10%. I assume the 80/20 rule. (Wrong, harmful events = 0.2N)
  • Only a portion of these wrong events will be non-compliant with established laws, Again say 20%. (Wrong, harmful, illegal events = W = 0.04N)
  • Only a portion of these illegal events will attract the formal attention of the justice system. The harm done must usually be above some threshold to trigger societal interest. No harm, no foul is one boundary condition often applied. Globally, and considering all forms of illegality, one estimate is that less than 20% are reported to justice systems. (Events entering the justice system = 0.2W = 0.008N)
  • The Crime Detection Rate is the number of cases where someone is identified as a suspect in a reported crime. This varies from about 90% for death by road accident, to 80% for murder, and down to 15% for burglary and 10% for fraud or sexual offenses. Say 30%. (Suspect detected = 0.06W = 0.0024N).
  • Less than half of those suspected proceed to formal prosecution. (Cases prosecuted = 0.03W = 0.0012N)
  • A majority of prosecutions do result in convictions. Conviction rates in justice systems vary from a low of about 50% in some African and Asian countries to a high of about 99.9% (Japan, Russia). In Europe and the US they are around 70 – 80%. (Which also suggests that the presumption of innocence has been largely negated once a formal prosecution occurs). Say 70%. (Number receiving their due = 0.021W = 0.00084N)

These are just guesstimates but it is apparent that no justice system can address and “render their due” to more than about 2% of all illegal events (or 0.1% of all events which create a “due”). It would seem that the societal exercise of justice is satisfied by addressing just this tiny fraction of events that could be addressed. That is not to say that justice systems don’t serve a critical purpose for all societies. But the primary purpose cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be to achieve a state of justness for all, or even justice for all, in the society concerned.

The bottom line is that justice systems decree and implement harm for those convicted. In fact it is the only recourse available to justice systems. The past cannot be changed and the only tool available is future harm. This is not restricted to criminal justice. Even in civil justice suits when perceived harm is brought to the courts, the recourse of the justice system to redressing balance (if imbalance is adjudged to exist and be illegal), is to decree future harm for the “wrongdoer”.

What, then, is actually achieved by justice systems?

In practice, every justice system is concerned only with a tiny fraction of all illegalities. It

  • decrees and implements harm to a select few,
  • is a PR exercise to demonstrate that the prevailing power has matters under control,
  • shows, as a deterrent, that some of the most egregious wrongdoers can be detected and “rendered their due”.

The reality is that every justice system (including its prevailing laws and institutions) is built on the core assumption that societies, for the smooth functioning of that society, must be seen to be pursuing justice. What justice or justness is actually achieved in the society at large is entirely incidental.

Doing harm to others is “bad”, except when it is just or decreed by a justice system.

Related: Laws are made to be broken

Without laws there are no law breakers. It is not only that law breakers are created by human laws, human laws need law breakers. Laws are established in the first place to prevent some human behaviors which society judges to be undesirable. But if everyone follows a law then that law is unnecessary, and if no one follows that law it is worthless. One could well say that law breakers perform a fundamental and necessary service for society. They keep laws alive. Without law breakers, there would be no need for laws or legislators or lawyers.


Swedish lay judge wants capital punishment “for some races”

April 17, 2015

I have yet to discern the real advantages brought by lay judges to the Swedish judicial system. Presumably they are thought to bring a modicum of “real life” into the ivory tower of jurisprudence. But it seems to me that politically appointed lay judges pervert the course of justice more often than they assist it.

Sveriges Domstolar

Serving as a lay judge in a court is an honorary task.  It helps to maintain public confidence in judicial administration and is a way for the public to gain insight into the operations of the courts. The varying background and experiences of lay judges give the courts a broad picture of the general conception of justice in   society.  This is particularly valuable for assessment issues, for example, for evaluation of evidence, reasonability issues and choice of sentence. …

Lay judges are elected …  in the municipal council or county borough council after nomination by political parties. If a person wishes to be a lay judge, he or she contacts a political party and puts forward their interest.

The simple fact is that lay judges in Sweden today are mainly passive and often unprofessional – and I can’t say much worse than that. Yet another case of a lay judge demonstrating her unsuitability is reported in the Sundsvalls Tidning:

Lay judge Anita Edin (M) believes that one could impose the death penalty “for certain races.” After her statement the trial had to be interrupted.
“We obviously have zero tolerance for these things” said Judge Kristina Svedberg.
The statement was made during a break in a trial in Sundsvall District Court on Wednesday, where several persons of foreign origin were indicted for drug offenses. During the break, one of the three lay judges said that he would write a motion on the death penalty.
“Yes, at least for certain races”, responded Anita Edin, a lay judge and Moderate politician in Timrå. Judge Kristina Svedberg broke into the discussion between the jurors and pointed out to Anita Edin that statements about the death penalty on the basis of race were very inappropriate.
“No, it’s clear, you do not say such things. You can only think such things” said Anita Edin.

But in one respect Anita Edin has a point. I see no reason why – for real justice – different people committing the same crime should not be subject to differing penalties. But perhaps reserving capital punishment just “for some races” is going too far. Anita Edin should probably join the Sweden Democrats.

The Swedish use of lay judges is over 1,000 years old and it is a working system – but it does not improve the dispensation of “justice” (whatever one takes that to be). Professor Christian Diesen of Stockholm University writes –

CairnLay judges have always, without interruption, taken part in the administration of justice in Sweden. For more than a thousand years, lay judges, elected by the people, have been members of the local courts. The role has changed during the centuries, but – in contrast to all other countries in Europe except Finland (as Finland was a part of Sweden until 1809) – the lay judge has never been out of the system.

At the time of the Vikings all free men were assembled in the ting, where political matters were discussed and decided. The ting, held outdoors in a place of religious cult, also served, however, as a court. Many disputes were ”solved” through ordeals or duels, but in civil litigation the chief or leader of the court proposed a verdict to the members of the ting for approval ( – the Vikings banged their shields to signal agreement…). In the 13th century when the local courts were established (and the ordeals abandoned), the administration of justice in the country was carried out by a judge, appointed by the king, and 12 elected (permanent) members of the local community. In the 17th century the courts were led by professional judges (with legal education) and the proceedings changed from oral to written form, a change that reduced the influence of the lay members of the court. The legal reform of 1734 reduced that influence even further as it stipulated that all lay judges had to disagree with the professional judge in order to outvote him. At the beginning of the 19th century the introduction of the jury system was discussed, but the jury was introduced into the Swedish system only in cases concerning freedom of the press (and it still applies in these cases). During the 20th century two opposite lines can be seen in the development of the role of the lay judges : The number of lay judges in the local courts has been reduced, step by step. In 1918 the government decided that 3 lay judges were sufficient for minor criminal cases. In 1948 the number of lay judges was reduced from 12 to 9 for major criminal cases and in 1971 from 9 to 7. The same year lay judges disappeared from civil cases (except for cases concerning family law). In 1983 the number decreased to 5 for major criminal cases and in 1997 it fell to 3 lay judges in all criminal cases.

But though the number of lay judges has steadily decreased, they have, in spite of being politically appointed amateurs, also been given a higher individual standing

On the other hand, since 1971, lay judges participate in the proceedings of Court of Appeal (as a minority) as well as the administrative courts, and in 1983 lay judges of all courts received an individual voting right, which put them on an equal footing with a professional judge.

The injustices of equality

August 3, 2014

We cannot both have individuality and equality.

And it would be a sorry day if humankind consisted just of clones and we had no differences. Without difference, equality is undefined and quality is meaningless and judgement is unnecessary. Discernment would not exist, there would be no “good” and no “bad”, and discrimination would cease to be.  Merely denying difference leads to injustice. Much of the legislation about “Rights” focuses on denying difference – as if that would make difference go away. Our very concepts of what is good or what is just depend upon being able to distinguish differences – in all the various differences that go to making individuals unique. Differences of capability, in behaviour, in performance, of competence, in appearance and – not least – in intelligence.

But it should not be beyond the wit of man to strive for justice – rather than a meaningless equality. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité  is inherently unjust and should instead have been Liberté, Justice, Fraternité. 

We applaud discernment and judgement but condemn discrimination. We use reverse discrimination to try and correct discrimination. We use “affirmative action” and quotas of various kinds to favour some groups – defined by their difference – to right their “wrongs” by wronging still others. Some gender equality legislation tries to deny that gender difference exists. The Swedish government has just proposed that the term “race” should be removed from all legislation. As if that would make differences disappear.

Given individuality, equality is often incompatible with justice. They are not synonyms and one does not imply the other. It is not for nothing that the phrase “just and equitable” uses both words and having both together assumes that a compromise will be necessary to get a measure of both.

It is a “classic” issue that every society has to take a call on and related to the conflict interface between “what is desired” and “what is deserved”. Should the individuals in a society be granted (as “rights”) what they desire/need or should they only be rewarded for what they deserve/earn? (Desire in this context must be equated  with “need” and anything “deserved” then must have been “earned”.) What an individual “desires” he terms as “needs”, and what he believes that he “deserves” is what he thinks he has “earned”. The surrounding society he operates in may have quite a different view of what he should desire (his needs) or what he has earned (deserves).

Simplistically this is socialism versus capitalism. “Socialism” can be described simply as being the wealth of a society being appropriated and accumulated into a common pool and then distributed “according to the individual’s needs/desires”.  “Capitalism” can be described as a system where each individual generates wealth or is remunerated according to what he has earned/deserved and individuals – rather than their appropriated wealth – are accumulated to make up that society. In these terms, a socialist society assumes ownership of all wealth and then takes a call on how much individualism it will suppress or permit, whereas a capitalist society assumes that ownership of wealth lies with the creators of the wealth who must then determine how much individualism they are prepared to give up for the “common good”.

In practice every society or organisation has a mix – often illogical and irrational – of the balance between “the needs of society” and the “rights of the individual”. Every society or organisation exhibits a mix of rewards for performance (earned) and allowances for needs (desires). This is a classic ideological problem that all trade unions face today. Once upon a time they advocated – for example – that a father of six should be paid more than a father of two because his needs/desires were greater. To even accept payment for “piecework” or any remuneration for “performance” was once seen as being heresy. Most large corporations today are essentially capitalist but generally implement remuneration on a mix of need and performance factors. Housing allowances, child allowances, education allowances are all examples of payments for perceived needs. Performance bonuses or allowances for extra qualifications or “danger money” have to be earned.

Inevitably socialistic societies tend towards an oppression of minorities by the “majority of wealth consumers” while capitalistic societies lean towards an oppression of the majority by the “minority of wealth creators”. This is the fundamental divide between the Right and the Left; to what extent should individuals and societies be subservient to or dominate the other? It is also the fundamental reason why there must usually be a conflict between “equality” and “justice”.

In this context, socialism maps to equality while capitalism maps to justice.

The desired versus deserved schism cannot be separated from how “equality” is viewed and consequently on defining what discrimination consists of. There is no equality of humans at birth. To be all born equal we would have to be clones and genetically identical which we are not. We are born to parents not of our choice, to our random positions on the predominantly bi-nodal gender scale. Our genetic traits (nature) and our subsequent experiences (nurture) determine our different capabilities and our different behaviours. Since it is these differences in our capabilities, our behaviour and our performance which make us individuals, what, then, should be “equalised” by subsequent unequal treatment?

In the name of “Equal Rights” we try to correct existing injustices. We use “Equal Opportunites” to mean removing the handicaps of unequal nurture for some individuals but in so doing we add handicaps for others. We don’t handicap athletes at the start of an Olympic 100 m race to ensure that all participants finish equal. For “gender equality” two women are paid the same amount at Wimbledon for 3 sets of tennis as two men for five but we accept that it would be an unequal match for the men to play against the women. Striving for equality, Wimbledon has achieved equality of pay for unequal performance. All societies tax their members unequally (and what does equal taxation mean anyway?) Creating or having wealth is taxed more heavily – perhaps justly – than wealth consumption. We punish (hopefully) justly – but unequally – for the same bad behaviour by different individuals.  We reserve places in educational institutions for those considered disadvantaged and thereby deny those same places for the deserving. A just health care system must provide unequal care with more care for those less healthy.

Given individuality, equality and justice will often be in conflict. To be just requires a recognition of differences and to then treat unequally to make suitable compensation for the difference. In theory “equality” should be an objective measure but as soon as it becomes the equality of something, it is just as subjective as notions of what is just.

Far better we strive for justice for individuals rather than for some diffuse and meaningless “equality for all”.

Justice without balance as mass murderer Flink is to be released today

June 11, 2014

Mattias Flink (born March 8, 1970, in Falun, Sweden) is a Swedish mass murderer who killed seven people on June 11, 1994, in Falun, Sweden. He was 24 at the time and a second lieutenant in the Swedish Army. He is to be released today on the 20th anniversary of his killing Karin Alkstål, 22, Therese Danielsson, 20, Helle Jürgensen, 21, Lena Mårdner-Nilsson, 29, Jenny Österman, 22, Maths Bragstedt, 35 and Johan Tollsten, 26.

There is a fundamental lack of balance in a justice system where someone gets drunk and murders 7 people, is sentenced to life in prison and is released exactly 20 years after he went on his murderous spree. He will be given a protected identity and state support to “re-establish” himself in society. The lack of balance lies in that society does not consider what may be due to the 7 victims. The discussion is only whether the murderer is now rehabilitated and whether he is any longer a danger to society. His debt to society is considered quit. But what about his debt to the victims? He deprived his victims and society of almost 500 man-years of life.

But the rights of the victims – it seems – died with them. The Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority (Brottsoffermyndigheten) is not known for its generosity to victims. A murder victim’s relatives can expect damages of about 50,000 kronor (about $8,000). For 70 years of life deprived! For example relatives of a woman who was crippled for life and where her attacker was sentenced to 12 years in prison were awarded all of 10,000 kronor ($1,500).

Capital punishment will not bring any better balance though. But surely the rest of his productive life must be in the service of his 7 young victims or their dependents or of society at large? His own objectives with his life and earnings are surely forfeit till the debt to his victims is paid off?

Swedish RadioToday Mattias Flink will be released exactly twenty years to the day after he shot seven young people to death in Falun. Under the law he must be released exactly on the anniversary when he was arrested, said Maria Löfgren, Correctional Officer of Dalarna.

In September this year, Mika Kalevi Muranen a Finnish army soldier who murdered 3 people will also be released after serving 20 years of a life sentence.

Anders Behring Breivik in Norway killed 77 people. He deprived them and society of over 5,000 man-years of life. I wonder how long his life-sentence will actually last?

Justice? Perhaps, but without balance.

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