Plaxico Burress, former NY Giants WR, recently got out of 20 months in prison for bringing a gun into a club and accidently discharging it, hitting him in the thigh, but hurting no one else. This punishment is an example of how our current legal system does not do its job in ensuring justice is done, but in fact shows that our current system and our current laws do that exact opposite.
If justice is the absence of injustice, or the re-balancing of a particular injustice, and injustice is the violation of a person’s rights (or any extension of those rights, like a contract), then for law to be considered just it must only punish unjust acts, and/or only try to re-create the state of justice that previously existed before the crime occurred. That is, a punishment can only be legitimate in response to a violation of an individual’s rights by another individual. Now let us apply this view of justice to Plaxico’s situation.
Plaxico Burress infringed on no persons rights, the bullet that was shot out of the gun hit only himself (one could argue that because the bullet did damage to the club then the club had the right to press charges for property damage, and this would be true, but the club did not do so), and so in this instance no injustice occurred. Plaxico’s possession of the gun itself infringed on no person’s right, though it could have infringed on the club owners property right if he brought it in without their permission or against club rules, this however was not the case either. Upon entering the club Plaxico made the club aware of his possession of a weapon and the club allowed entrance anyways, thus no property rights were violated, and again no injustice occurred. Yet despite Burress committing no injustice upon anyone he was thrown in jail for almost two years. Burress lost all of his freedoms and liberties, despite infringing on no others person’s freedoms and liberties, and doing the latter must be necessary for the former if justice is to have been done. This sort of injustice should make all decent Americans sick to their stomach, no man deserves to lose their freedom without first taking the freedom of another.