Searching for ‘justice’ is an age-old task

Jordan Boyer, Photo Editor

“Justice” is a very controversial topic among the population, and it has been prevalent in almost all of history. What justifies a certain action against another? Have the courts delivered justice to a guilty criminal? These are complex questions to answer if you really sit down and think about them.

According to, there are four types of justice people seek out after they have been wronged, distributive justice, procedural justice, restorative justice and retributive justice. The main type of justice I am focusing on is retributive justice, which deals with the act of punishment against perpetrators and criminals.

In our modern-day America, the most common arguments over the concepts of justice is the death penalty, that is a part of the crime and punishment system in a majority of the states within the U.S. If a person takes another’s life and they are deemed a danger to society, is it justified to kill them for their crimes? Again, this is a hard question to answer.

Recently I have been watching the Netflix series “I Am a Killer.” This show is a documentary series that follows death row inmates and their crimes to deserve the death penalty. It is hard to watch the show and not question the justifications for the death penalty in some states. A select few of the inmates on the show in all likelihood do not deserve the death penalty for their crimes. What they did is still awful and absolutely unacceptable, but playing devil’s advocate, are they truly a danger to society?

Would it be justified to send these inmates to their deaths for the crimes they have committed? I unfortunately cannot answer that, but everyone does have their own opinions when it comes to this topic.

The definition of what justice is and how it can be interpreted has been a philosophical debate that can date back to Ancient Greece. In 360 B.C.E Plato wrote “The Republic” (also known as “The Republic of Plato”), this work focused on the concepts of laws and justice and is one of his most well-known works.

Plato was debating the concepts of justice back in 360 B.C.E, and we still cannot come together and agree on what justice is.

People can receive multiple years in prison for tax evasion, money laundering, marijuana distribution etc. Is this justified? Who knows. This issue cannot be solved. In my professional opinion, justice will always be a debate, and it will always be a controversial topic with crime and punishment in our country.

I hate to write an article without a strong opinion or answer to the question I am discussing, but after witnessing justice in our country my whole life and after the research I did for this article, I simply do not have an answer. I have never been so conflicted on an issue in my life.

In all reality, it does not matter what me (a citizen) believes about justice. This is something for the courts and the federal/state government to decide. However, with the drastic differences between many different laws in the states, I feel our nation’s officials do not know what justice is either and cannot come to an agreement. This will always be an issue in the United States, because this philosophical debate has been going on for many centuries. No matter what happens with the future of federal and laws, there will always be controversy.

Jordan Boyer is a senior history major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].