Reasoning from the basic fact that each person owns and operates their own life exclusively, it follows that if everyone observes that there will never be an occasion to use force. But suppose that happens anyway. A violates the self-ownership of B. What then?
Having the exclusive claim to their life means that B has the moral claim to defend that life and all its attributes, and so is entitled to use defensive force to prevent the aggression — or, if it is already over, to restore their situation to where it was before the attack began. And if they need help, they are just as clearly entitled to hire it.
This kind of help is what we can call a ‘justice system.’ The purpose of a justice system is to right wrongs.
Today’s so-called justice system has little or no relationship with the righting of wrongs. Even a casual observer must notice its manifest failure. It fails to convict most of the guilty, fails to avoid convicting any of the innocent, and fails to compensate any of the victims.
An ideal system would include detection, apprehension, trial, disposition, and monitoring:
- Detection - in case the identity of the alleged violator is not known.
- Apprehension - to bring them to a court of justice.
- Trial - to ensure both parties freely present their cases to an impartial arbiter.
- Disposition - a judgement, defining what will constitute a resolution.
- Monitoring - a way to ensure that judgement is carried out.
How Justice Functions
Contrast between today’s government monopoly and the kind of justice system that would probably evolve in a free-market society.
ComponentTodayFree-MarketPurposeTo enforce government laws.To restore the damage done to the individual.ScopeAnyone suspected of breaking a law - with or without a victim.Only those accused of harming a victim.FundingBy taxpayers, under threat of force.By plaintiffs, then by the losers.DetectionExcept for private investigators, whom only the rich can afford, detection is monopolised by government police forces, all of whose members are motivated by the wish to play safe and be good bureaucrats. With no competition, effectiveness is pathetic: In NY City, only three quarters of all murders are solved by an arrest - in a good year.Detective agencies would be retained by plaintiffs on a contingency basis. Inter-agency agreements would facilitate information sharing and contracts would provide for full payment only upon the subsequent trial outcome - ensuring as far as feasible that the right perpetrator is brought to court.ApprehensionAccused perpetrators are locked up and treated like scum, without recourse. Police and prosecutors may lie brazenly to extract a ‘confession,’ self-ownership is regarded as a nuisance, evidence is routinely planted.Those arrested would retain their full self-ownership and if treated with anything but the utmost respect would be free to sue for mistreatment - and expect to win big damages if successful - regardless of the outcome of the primary trial.Trial Trials occur only in courts monopolised by government, which employs and therefore heavily influences the judge, the prosecutor, the defence attorney, the marshals, and even the janitor. Juries are selected under government supervision, and the prosecutor spends as much stolen money as he sees fit to select one likely to favour their case. The judge controls what counsel may say, and what evidence may be seen by the jury. The entire proceeding is a farce, especially in cases where government has an interest in the outcome. Even when it does not (for example, the Simpson case) the outcome quite often acquits the guilty and convicts the innocent.Trials would only be held in courts operating competitively for profit, trading on their reputation for integrity and fairness as their prime asset. Procedures (rules of evidence, jury or not, etc) would be set by agreement between court and adversaries, with a jury trial being the default. No court would accept a case in whose outcome it had an interest - so as to preserve its priceless reputation for integrity. No case would reach a court except on the complaint of an actual victim, that is, a person whose self-ownership has allegedly been harmed. ‘Victimless crimes’ would therefore never appear.DispositionThe victim, if any, is dismissed - perhaps with a word of thanks for their testimony but never with any compensation. The convicted defendant is imprisoned. All taxpayers (including the victim) pay for their accommodation, under threat of force. They are never rehabilitated. The lawyers do nicely, and the gullible public is told by a brainless media that ‘justice has been done.’If the defendant is found responsible they will be ordered to compensate their victim, so as to restore them to their former state as far as is feasible. They will also be required to pay for the costs of their detection, apprehension, and trial. There are no taxpayers, nor any attempt to burden others with any costs. Every party therefore wins - except the aggressor, who loses in strict proportion to the damage they caused.MonitoringConvicts are kept in government cages, thereby destroying what may be left of their potential for productive living. Taxpayers are robbed of billions a year to pay for it, and a substantial staff of guards is employed in the soul-destroying work of keeping them imprisoned.Provided the compensation ordered is delivered on time, no particular restraint would be needed except in a few rare cases (rape or murder, for example) and so prisons as we know them would not exist. Electronic tracking (ankle bracelets) might be used, but only for the primary purpose of ensuring that restitution is made to the victim. Aggressors would therefore stay productive and have maximum incentive to pay off debts to victims and get on with normal life.Reversal‘Higher’ government courts review and sometimes reverse erroneous decisions, but since all such judges are also government employees this provides little protection when government was a party to the case. The US Supreme Court is not even obliged to hear appeals and in fact dismisses ninety-five percent of those presented without being heard. If reversals are ordered, there is still no compensation provided to the person wrongly convicted, even after years in a government cage.At every stage in the process, all involved know they are personally responsible for errors and so will tend to make fewer. Each will be liable to the victim, if they cause an accused but innocent person to suffer.
Government ‘justice’ has little to do with real justice at all. Any free-market alternative would be vastly superior. Justice is far too important a subject to leave in the hands of a gang of thugs.
An objection may have come to mind. How can an ordinary person afford to hire investigators and lawyers and court services? Fair question.
The market would respond to that need, probably in the form of insurance services. The risk of being damaged by an aggressor in a free society would be low, therefore, the event would be suitable for insurance. A person would pay a small premium and the insurer would provide a range of services in the event they were harmed in any way.
That is not to say that such arrangements would be the norm. The market would produce one or more solutions to such reasonable needs. In this way free-market justice would serve the needs of all members of a free society.