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discussion question

discussion question


The concept of being just, in general, is complex and somewhat nebulous (and thus specified differently by the different aspects of it) and, of course, deeply philosophical, considering that every society has its own ideas of what is and isn’t just in the different spheres of life where the concept must be applicable, so after finding and accepting a definition, we should ask ourselves, what is justice to us, personally, when it is related to crime and punishment in the 21st century America, and how much of our own conviction (no pun intended) regarding those issues agrees with the way our society manages them, and also, if you consider the idea of social justice an integral part of the issue (dilemma?) of crime and punishment or separate from it? For starters, please see the dictionary definition of justice below.

Please understand that such issues can lead to a conflict of opinion with other students who may see things very differently, so please refrain from name-calling, empty propaganda (use facts, instead), and assigning blame to certain groups of people or to one political party or another (there is plenty of blame to go around in every direction, in any case) and try to focus on facts and logic in support of your argument.

Here is your discussion challenge:

Before you start: Please watch the Movie Moments videos — they provide information you should know before you make your argument one way or another.

1. Try to define ‘just’ regarding ‘crime and punishment’ in our society.  What is justice, in essence, within that framework? Punishment? Retribution? Deterrence? Correction? Protecting society from harm? Maintaining the status quo (a tradition and social order to be upheld and continued unchanged) and, if so, can it be separated from another concept, ‘social justice?’

2. Is our justice system ‘just,’ according to the definition you find relevant, and also, is it so according to its moral definition in our society? What can be the reason for ‘injustice’ (if there is any) within our justice system?

3. There are all kinds of talks about the need for prison reform — why? Is there anything wrong with it? And if so, how could the system be improved (in case it should be improved)?

Here is a dictionary definition of ‘just:’ 

just 1

   (j?st) adj.1.  Honorable  and  fair in  one’s  dealings  and  actions:  a just ruler.  See  Synonyms at  fair 1. 

2.  Consistent  with  what is  morally  right;  righteous:  a just cause. 

3.  Properly  due or  merited:  just deserts. 

4.  Law  Valid  within  the  law;  lawful:  just claims. 

5.  Suitable or  proper in  nature;  fitting:  a just touch of solemnity. 

6.  Based on  fact or  sound  reason;  well-founded:  a just appraisal. 

adv.  (j?st, j?st; j?st  when stressed) 1.  Precisely;  exactly:  just enough salt. 

2.  Only a  moment  ago:  He just arrived. 

3. By a  narrow  margin;  barely:  just missed being hit; just caught the bus before it pulled away. 

4. At a  little  distance:  just down the road. 

5.  Merely;  only:  just a scratch. 

6.  Simply;  certainly:  It’s just beautiful! 

7.  Perhaps;  possibly:  I just may go. 


just aboutAlmost;  very  nearly:  This job is just about done. 

just nowOnly a  moment  ago. 

[Middle  English  juste,  from  Old  French,  from  Latin  i?stus;  see  yewes- in  Indo-European roots.] 

just?ly  adv.

just?ness  n.

just 2


n.  & v.Variant of  joust

American  Heritage®  Dictionary of  the  English  Language,  Fifth  Edition.  Copyright ©  2016 by  Houghton  Mifflin  Harcourt  Publishing  Company.  Published by  Houghton  Mifflin  Harcourt  Publishing  Company.  All  rights  reserved. 


adj1.a.  fair or  impartial in  action or  judgment 

b. ( as collective noun;  preceded by  the):  the just. 

2.  conforming to  high  moral  standards;  honest 

3.  consistent  with  justice:  a just action. 

4.  rightly  applied or  given;  deserved:  a just reward. 

5.  (Law)  legally  valid;  lawful:  a just inheritance. 

6.  well-founded;  reasonable:  just criticism. 

7.  correct,  accurate, or  true:  a just account. 

adv8.  used  with  forms of  have to  indicate an  action  performed in  the  very  recent  past:  I have just closed the door. 

9. at  this  very  instant:  he’s just coming in to land. 

10. no  more  than;  merely;  only:  just an ordinary car. 

11.  exactly;  precisely:  that’s just what I mean. 

12. by a  small  margin;  barely:  he just got there in time. 

13.  (intensifier):  it’s just wonderful to see you. 

14.  informal  indeed;  with a  vengeance:  isn’t it just. 

15.  just abouta. at  the  point of  starting  (to do  something) 

b.  very  nearly;  almost:  I’ve just about had enough. 

16.  just a moment  just a second  just a minute an  expression  requesting  the  hearer to  wait or  pause  for a  brief  period of  time 

17.  just nowa. a  very  short  time  ago 

b. at  this  moment 

c.  South African informal in a  little  while 

18.  just on  having  reached  exactly:  it’s just on five o’clock. 

19.  just soa. an  expression of  complete  agreement or of  unwillingness to  dissent 

b.  arranged  with  precision 

[C14:  from  Latin  j?stus  righteous,  from  j?s  justice] 

?justly adv

?justness n

Usage:  The  use of  just  with  exactly ( it’s just exactly what they want) is  redundant  and  should be  avoided:  it’s exactly what they want

Collins  English  Dictionary –  Complete  and  Unabridged,  12th  Edition  2014 ©  HarperCollins  Publishers  1991,  1994,  1998,  2000,  2003,  2006,  2007,  2009,  2011,  2014 




1.  within a  brief  preceding  time;  but a  moment  before:  The sun just came out. 

2.  exactly or  precisely:  That’s just what I mean. 

3. by a  narrow  margin;  barely:  just over six feet tall. 

4.  only or  merely:  I was just a child. Don’t just sit there. 

5. at  this  moment:  The movie is just ending. 

6.  simply:  We’ll just have to wait and see. 

7.  quite;  really;  positively. 


8.  guided by  reason,  justice,  and  fairness. 

9.  done or  made  according to  principle;  equitable:  a just reply. 

10.  based on  right;  lawful:  a just claim. 

11. in  keeping  with  truth or  fact;  true;  correct:  a just analysis. 

12.  given or  awarded  rightly;  deserved:  a just punishment. 

13. in  accordance  with  standards or  requirements;  proper or  right:  just proportions. 

14.  (esp. in  Biblical  use)  righteous. 

15.  actual,  real, or  genuine. 

[1325–75;  Middle  English <  Latin  j?stus  lawful,  deserved,  just,  adj.  derivative of  j?s  law,  right] 

just?ly, adv.

just?ness, n.

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