gallowsEvery time someone commits a hideous crime I hear calls to hang 'm high or something other to that effect. People can be blood thirsty animals when a crime is committed. Personally I feel out of my depth in such cases. I feel empathy for the victim and the family of victim. Naturally, I would say, but also with the perpetrator. I would like to know hän's side of the story. Too much empathy. I would not be a good judge. As a judge you have to be objective. But what kind of standards would you apply. I lay out two cases with two kinds of judges:

Case A: A woman has killed her spouse after a year of being beaten up by him.

Case B: A man has parked his car repeatedly in front of ambulance exit.

Judge Max Reasonable Revenge says: In case A the woman needs to be hanged because she causes the death of another. That's something society cannot allow. In case B the man gets a 1000 euro fine, because it's a repeated offense.

Judge Min Damage to Society says: In case A the woman will not kill again because the incentive to do so is removed. To deter others from killing casually she gets a prison sentence. In case B the man should be hanged. His behavior will one day cause the death of someone who needs medical care fast. Moreover letting him off the hook will invite others to do the same.

The first judge tries to exact revenge proportionally to the deed being done. Hän might take mitigating circumstances into account, but that does not take away the fact hän has an eye for an eye philosophy.

The second judge tries to avoid similar crimes in the future. To hän it is essentially is a matter of minimizing the impact of crime on society.

These are simple text book examples. I am sure everyone gets taught them in law school, but for myself I never got a clear picture until I saw a BBC program with the examples above. (If you asking me for a source I am sorry, it must have been at least 20 years ago). It is easy demand revenge, but when the consequence is that the woman should be hanged we feel that the latter judge is right. However that would also imply that hän would hang us if we ever parked our car wrong (in spite of us having the best possible reasons). These law philosophy have conflicting outcomes. A judge always balances between them. Revenge versus the chance of repetition and the damage that it causes. That's why I am glad I am not in that seat. I would not know how to judge.