Friday, 1 August 2014

Justice should be cheap

Or at least not so damned expensive.  Violence is favoured over justice when risk and reward favour the crook.  The Pickton investigation and trial cost $104 million dollars, not counting $1.8 million to upgrade a building he was held in.  Vigilante justice is a poor alternative but one official bullet  not long after the backhoes turned up DNA traces of over thirty women in the mud of Pickton's farm sounds about right.  No bullet?  Then have a hearing with forensic psychiatrists and get him off the streets into a fenced facility.

There's always some uncertainty in cases.  How high does the standard of proof have to be? When you drive down the highway, you make life and death decisions based on best guesses. If you need absolute proof that someone is going to brake or change lanes or whip around you, you should sell the car and get off the road.

Since execution is off the table in Canada, we are talking in these high profile cases about how many years the accused should be kept off the streets.   I would rather they had locked Mr. Pickton up in a jolly old summer camp with three squares and a beach, than have over a hundred million of our earned dollars lavished on the legal system.

There will be errors but not additional deaths.  A hundred million dollars could have been redirected in BC to reduce traffic deaths, make downtown Eastside safer, improve health outcomes and bribe Indian chiefs to accept big monthly rent cheques for pipeline rights-of-way.

At bottom, the cost-benefit ratio for doing the crime should be lower than the cost-benefit ratio for investigating the crime, holding a trial, sentencing and detention.  Otherwise the violent win. As the saying goes, "Justice delayed is justice denied".

There are principled arguments against my position. Nonetheless, I am arguing that we must move the balance point between what we let people get away with and how much public money we spend to stop them.  Taxpayers will be better served and violators will get a "short sharp shock" of some sort in a timely fashion.

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