Comparing Political Platforms (9) Criminal Justice

Yesterday’s headline read “702 shootings by city’s cops, not one federal prosecution.” It’s a typical day in Chicagoland with the FBI investigating the cops. Our whole criminal justice system is a mess. “Community activists and family members of those shot by police have urged federal officials to take a more active role in investigation the incidents, hoping they will be more aggressive than local authorities” (Chicago Tribune August 9, 2016).

It’s no wonder that law and order (i.e. criminal justice) is a hot topic for the 2016 elections and that justice means different things to different people.  Again, using the Libertarian Platform as our organizing structure for our series–Comparing Political Platforms–the various parties have much to say about criminal justice.

DNC Democrats believe that no bank can be too big to fail and no executive too powerful to jail. Democrats will support stronger criminal laws and civil penalties for Wall Street criminals who prey on the public trust. (p.11) Democrats are committed to reforming our criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration. Something is profoundly wrong when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though our country has less than five percent of the world’s population. We will reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers…We will rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve… We will work with police chiefs to invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the creation of national guidelines for the appropriate use of force. We will encourage better police-community relations, require the use of body cameras, and stop the use of weapons of war that have no place in our communities. We will end racial profiling that targets individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive. We should report national data on policing strategies and provide greater transparency and accountability. We will require the Department of Justice to investigate all questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings, and we will support states and localities who help make those investigations and prosecutions more transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process. (p.15)   We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by “banning the box,” expanding reentry programs, and restoring voting rights. We think the next President should take executive action to ban the box for federal employers and contractors, so applicants have an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications before being asked about their criminal records. (p.16)
LP The prescribed role of government is to protect the rights of every individual including the right to life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited in their application to violations of the rights of others through force or fraud, or to deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Therefore, we favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes (Covered in prior post). We support restitution to the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. The constitutional rights of the criminally accused, including due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must be preserved. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.
RNC Republicans believe that no financial institution is too big to fail…We endorse prudent regulation of the banking system to ensure that FDIC-regulated banks are properly capitalized and taxpayers are protected against bailouts. (p3). Our most urgent task as a Party is to restore the American people’s faith in their government by electing a president who will enforce duly enacted laws, honor constitutional limits on executive authority, and return credibility to the Oval Office (p.10). The men and women of law enforcement — whether patrolling our neighborhoods or our borders, fighting organized crime or guarding against domestic terror — deserve our gratitude and support. Their jobs are never easy, especially in crisis situations, and should not be made more difficult by politicized second-guessing from federal officials…To honor their sacrifice, we recommit ourselves, as individuals and as a party, to the rule of law and the pursuit of justice …Two grave problems undermine the rule of law on the federal level: Over-criminalization and over-federalization. (p.39) We applaud the Republican Governors and legislators who have been implementing criminal justice reforms like those proposed by our 2012 platform. Along with diversion of first-time, nonviolent offenders to community sentencing, accountability courts, drug courts, veterans treatment courts, and guidance by faith-based institutions with proven track records of rehabilitation, our platform emphasized restorative justice to make the victim whole and put the offender on the right path. As variants of these reforms are undertaken in many states, we urge the Congress to learn from what works. In the past, judicial discretion about sentences led to serious mistakes concerning dangerous criminals. Mandatory minimum sentencing became an important tool for keeping them off the streets. Modifications to it should be targeted toward particular categories, especially nonviolent offenders and persons with drug, alcohol, or mental health issues, and should require disclosure by the courts of any judicial departure from the state’s sentencing requirements. (p.40)

Criminal Justice is justice achieved …  for the victims of crime … by way of punishment of / consequences for … the perpetrators of crime.

What is justice, anyway? Well, it depends on who you ask.

There is a legal definition and a biblical definition.

Legal: “The proper administration of the law; the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law. Aside from the fairness issue, it also means ‘a scheme or system of law in which every person receives his/her/its due from the system, including all rights, both natural and legal. One problem is that attorneys, judges, and legislatures often get caught up more in procedure than in achieving justice for all.’” (source Legal Dictionary)

In other words, our legal system has developed several flaws:

  • First, it is set up to reward people who achieve a conviction whether or not it’s merited…and equally rewards those who get people off the hook for the crimes they have, in fact, committed. The legal fees one can charge is grounded less in truth-seeking and is tied more to the effective achievement of your side’s goals.
  • We have juries of our peers irrespective of education level, who can be swayed by all kinds of emotion, political, and racial motivations
  • And we have judges whose political aspirations may flavor their judgments in a calculated career move.
platform criminal justiceWe have a process and a criminal justice system but actual justice runs through on stilts.


Because they’ve forgotten (or maybe they never knew in today’s secular litigious climate) the origin of justice.

It’s supposed to be grounded in Truth.

Consider the Biblical definition:

Biblical:  “Biblical justice involves making individuals, communities, and the cosmos whole, by upholding both goodness and impartiality… As true and good, God seeks to make the object of his holy love whole. This is what motivates God throughout the Old and New Testaments in his judgments on sin and injustice. These judgments are both individual and corporate in scope. “

God’s justice is always truth-seeking and redemptive…or we’d all fry in the fires of hell.  That’s the truth and why redemption is so important.

God’s criminal justice punishes for several purposes:

  • First, for restoring that goodness which was lost in the crime,
  •  in order to awaken the soul of the criminal to experience remorse,
  • to redeem the repentant sinner,
  • and in whatever way possible, to repay what was taken from the one wronged, the one trusting in God’s fairness.
  • And it’s all for the purpose of wholeness (integrity) and holiness (inward and outward manifestation of truth).
What does the Bible say about God’s brand of criminal justice?  It must be stated that crime against God is called sin.  The criminal is called a sinner.  And justice was done in the body of Jesus Christ on the Cross so our sins would not count against us.

It’s all about reconciliation:  2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It’s all about truth.  Revelation 19:1 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for true and just are his judgments”

Of course, God has a significant advantage in knowing everything, being all powerful, and having unerring judgment. He’s always right.  And we’re not.
There you go, our problem defined: How do we achieve criminal justice in a legal sense when we reject the Truth and are prone to err ourselves?

We aim for perfect justice and accept that we will always fall short of that goal. The Bible says,

On hearings and appeals, Moses said, Deuteronomy 1: 16 And I charged your judges at that time: Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien. 17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.

In the reign of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 19:5 He appointed judges in the land, in each of the fortified cities of Judah. 6 He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. 7 Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”

Maybe the reason people feel like they have no justice in our criminal justice system is that they feel there has been partiality, bribery, and that judgments are lacking truth.  Truth resident in a healthy fear of God. As our judiciary increasingly becomes the home of secular thought, it’s no wonder that we find judging done … by man … for man … a problematic idea.

There is no fear of God upon our judges.  How can we possibly get justice?
  • Some people want law enforcement convicted and criminals to go free.
  • Some people want law enforcement that’s gone bad to escape justice and just give the victims’ families a big pay out as restitution for their 15 minutes of fame on social media and their lifetime of sorrow.
  • Some people think there should be racial quotas that match demographic makeup.
  • Some people think that victimless crimes are not crimes at all because they only harm themselves.
  • And some people think money should be the determining factor (the rich should use their money to get off even as the poor get convicted OR the retribution idea that the rich should be punished and the poor should get a pass, irrespective of crime).

This is not justice.

They’ve deluded themselves into believing the same lie that everyone else in government has. There is no God and they will never be held accountable for their judgments by a Higher Power.

To that lie, God says to us through revelation to the Apostle John, Revelation 16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”…5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; 6 for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” 7 And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”

The bottom line is that God wants all of us to fear Him, and

Zechariah 8:16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17 do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD.

Do you want true justice in our criminal justice system?  Here’s the Bible’s instruction: Romans 13: 3b Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

We need fear of God upon our judges and upon our people.  Without the Truth, how can our criminal justice system possibly administer true justice? 
Any reform measures must address the real problem. 
There is no fear of God.
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Categories Articles, Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on August 10, 2016

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