It is possible to note that the modern judicial system is based on the principle of retributive, restorative, and parallel justice but when it comes to homicide the former seems to be the most appropriate form of justice. It is possible to consider a case of a murderer to see that retributive justice is justified in certain cases. Thus, Julio Blanco Garcia, aged 27 was sentenced to 49 years in prison for killing 19-year-old Vanessa Pham. Garcia killed the girl in 2010 but he was not caught until 2012 when he was arrested for stealing a bottle of champagne.
The offender reported that on that day he smoked several PCP-laced cigarettes that “made him ill” (Weiner & Jouvenal, 2013, para. 11). He also reported that he asked the girl to give him and his 1-year-old daughter a lift to the hospital. He added that she went a different road and he got mad and stabbed her several times (Carey, 2013). However, the prosecutors reported that the man intended to rape the girl and when she understood what was going to happen and tried to change the road, he stabbed her several times. Notably, defense attorneys stressed that the murder was committed under the influence of drugs and the offender deserved a milder sentence as he also had a conscience and wanted to be free from the drug addiction.
It is necessary to consider three major types of justice to develop a framework for cases similar to the one in question. Thus, restorative justice is based on the principle of reconciliation and the satisfaction of the stakeholders. According to this paradigm, the offender can try to repay the harm he has done through discussions, conferences, and so on (Wenzel, Okimoto, Feather & Platow, 2008). These measures are aimed at developing a dialogue between the victim and the offender. Parallel justice is based on the principle of punishing the offender proportionately but enabling the offender to start a new life when he/she is done with the punishment. Finally, retributive justice focuses on proportionate punishment for the offender as this is seen as a just and appropriate response to a crime.
To understand which form of justice is most appropriate in the case of Julio Blanco Garcia, it is necessary to analyze the peculiarities of the three forms of justice. In this paper, I will argue that such soft-core forms of justice as restorative and parallel cannot be applied in Garcia’s case as in the murder committed by the man drug addiction is involved. Adherence to retributive justice, in this case, will ensure the criminal’s isolation accompanied by his recovery from the drug addiction and the satisfaction of the victim’s family who wants the killer to have a proportionate punishment for the horrible crime.
Overview of the Three Forms of Justice
The first form of justice to be discussed is retributive justice. Thus, retributive justice is a notion that an offender “having violated rules or laws… has to be punished in proportion to the severity of the wrongdoing” (Wenzel et al., 2008, p. 375). Thus, the paradigm is based on the principle of punishment, which is central to the concept.
In the present case, this principle is also essential as the man who killed a young woman has to be punished. More so, he has to be isolated from society to prevent himself from committing similar crimes. The fact that the offender abused drugs also suggests that he has to be isolated from the community until he manages to overcome the addiction. It is noteworthy that public opinion is rather clear on cases associated with drug addiction and criminals who committed the crime under substance often receive a harsher punishment (Spohn, Kim, Belenko & Brennan, 2014). In prison. Garcia can also receive certain treatment and overcome his addiction.
Nonetheless, there are several limitations to the use of this form of justice. For instance, Roebuck and Wood (2011) state that it is impossible to justify any punishment as well as find a proportionate punitive measure. Thus, a moral concern arises as the moral dilemma of people’s right to punish other people has not been resolved yet. Apart from that, there are particular economic disadvantages. Detention of inmates costs a lot of budget money that could be allocated in a more efficient way (schools, hospitals, and so on). Thus, the detention of a criminal does not contribute to the community but leads to additional expenditure. Finally, it has not been proved that the victim’s family, as well as the community, can be satisfied by the offender’s imprisonment and the use of retributive justice.
However, these limitations are hardly applicable in the case of Garcia as the benefits of retributive justice outweigh them. Thus, the drug addict will not be in the street anymore and will not be able to harm anyone. The offender will also be able to understand the horror of his wrongdoing. The fact that he stole something suggests that even though he had committed a horrible homicide he never stopped breaking laws and could carry out another serious crime.
Carey, J. (2013). Blanco Garcia sentenced to 49 years in Pham murder. NBC Washington. Web.
Roebuck, G., & Wood, D. (2011). A retributive argument against punishment. Criminal Law and Philosophy, 5(1), 73-86.
Spohn, C.C., Kim, B., Belenko, S., & Brennan, P.K. (2014). The direct and indirect effects of offender drug use on federal sentencing outcomes. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 30(3), 549-576.
Weiner, R., & Jouvenal, J. (2013). Man convicted of killing 19-year-old Vanessa Pham sentenced to 49 years in prison. The Washington Post. Web.
Wenzel, M., Okimoto, T.G., Feather, N.T., & Platow, M.J. (2008). Retributive and restorative justice. Law and Human Behavior, 32(5), 375-89.