Monday, 16 August 2004

Never mind the "community"; what about the victim?

The Labour/LibDem administration is mightily concerned about the problems caused by young criminals. Or, more accurately perhaps, they are worried about the voters' concerns:
FIRST Minister Jack McConnell today revealed details of a new scheme to make yobs and vandals put right the damage they have done to society. Those found guilty of relatively minor offences, such as spraying graffiti or being drunk and disorderly, are to be forced to work unpaid for up to 100 hours as part of their punishment.
So the yobs are going to get what they deserve, aren't they?

I'm not so sure.

Apparently, these wonderful new plans will:

force individuals whose behaviour blights the lives of others to give something back by doing unpaid community work.
And, assuming that the police are actually out on the beat:
people picked up by the police for minor offences such as being drunk and disorderly, or one-off acts of vandalism, could be given a community reparation order instead of, or as well as, a fine.
Along with its talk of "community reparations" the article goes on to mention: debts owed "to the community", taking something "from you community" and giving "something back to the community".

This policy is supported by the governing coalition, the main opposition party, and it wouldn't surprise to hear that all of the other parties are in agreement too.

Well, I'm not.

All this talk of "community" is precisely what's wrong with Scotland. Collectivism rules OK, it seems. But what about the individual?

Almost all crime has an individually identifiable VICTIM. It is to that victim that criminals should make reparation, not to an amorphous "community". Criminals should be made to pay thrice for their crimes. First, the victim should receive 100% compensation from the criminal for losses directly attributable to the crime. Second, the victim should receive the same sum again to compensate for the stress that the criminal has caused. Third, the criminal should pay the costs of his arrest and trial. Anything short of this is unjust.

Compensate victims, not the "community".

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Squander Two
David didn't say that no-one owes anything to the community. What he said was that our politicians are becoming so obsessed with the community that they're forgetting about the individual. Criminals are being forced to compensate the community instead of, not as well as, their victims.  
The concept of community as you describe it is perfectly compatible with the idea of criminals being forced to compensate their individual victims.

19 August 2004, 02:54:50 GMT+01:00
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As we live in social groups, we rely on others within that social group. If I buy a loaf of bread from a baker, it's a voluntary exchange. He doesn't give me bread because he like me. The fact is I am interacting and relying with someone else within my social group or community. A community in the strictest sense is simply a group of people who live together. That's really part of the basis of human existence and I cannot see how any libertarian can deny that. Does the concept of 'community' infringe on freedom? Well since you are part of a community and a social structure and gain everything from that social structure, maybe you do 'owe' that community something.

18 August 2004, 08:55:14 GMT+01:00
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The major effect of graffiti is on the community particularly where, as is often the case, it appears on semi-abandoned property. (Of course a council can legally force the owner to clean it but that is the community penalising the owner. Generally the fear induced by crime is a community problem.  
This is not specifically disagreeing with the remedy just the "no such thing as society" philosophy.

17 August 2004, 20:37:07 GMT+01:00
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Robert Speirs
How could you be so mean? A nice man from the government is saying that since you harmed a victim, you can make up for it by paying him or working doing what he tells you. What, don't you believe that the nice government man will make sure the victim gets the benefit of your compensatory work?

17 August 2004, 18:34:47 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Duffin
CA, of course I didn't teach myself to read and write - my parents paid teachers to make that happen. I paid a driving instructor so that I could learn to drive, and I pay my ISP for my web site. Voluntary contracts all of them, based on property rights and the rule of law. 
The collectivist "community" has nothing to do with it.

17 August 2004, 12:22:17 GMT+01:00
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Sorry but humans are social animals. 
The 'community' gave you all the skills you use today. You as an individual didn't teach yourself how to read, write, drive a car or the mental faculties to help determine your libertarianism. Would you be able to maintain your blog or even have access to a computer without the aid of others? 
I agree that legislation creating victimless crimes (or crimes that don't violate rights to person and property) should be repealed, nonetheless 'society' or the 'community' is something who all take from.

17 August 2004, 08:26:54 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Ian Dodge
Very good piece David.

16 August 2004, 13:31:03 GMT+01:00