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:’
(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.
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]
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.
[132575; Middle English < Latin j?stus lawful, deserved, just, adj. derivative of j?s law, right]