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Just Desert

Not all people understood squarely the concept of just desert. This is because of the fact that it is a legal concept and that a layman needs to study it further in order to understand its legal implications. Within the realm of judicial philosophy, just desert is understood as a philosophy that lowers the status of an individual in the society, who committed a crime just to restore moral balance (Belrad, 2008, p. 1). However, just desert can also be understood as the implementation or execution of appropriate penalties of crimes committed in proportion to the gravity of the injury or damage incurred to the victim (Belrad, 2008, p.

1). It is obvious that the term just desert is a confusing one as many of the legal luminaries understood the term in different perspectives. As such, learning both sides of the philosophy of such term is a must. There are people who argued that just desert is an appropriate action against an individual who chose to commit crimes. If a criminal chose to be deviant and engage in threatening behaviours, punishment accorded to him is proper and legitimate (Keel, 2005, p. 1).

Punishment intended to people for their actions of injuring or damaging others are the focus of just desert (Keel, 2005, p. 1). In short, the application of the theory of just desert is a necessity in the society that we live. The freedom of a person to do what he wants in the society carries with it the choice to do well and avoidance of injuring the same rights of other people must be considered a norm. Failure to respect the rights of other people deserves a punishment in order to bring back moral equilibrium.

On the other hand, many legal scholars supported the view of John Rawls that just desert is not a practical solution in deterring criminal acts (Vallier, 2006, p. 3). There is an air of reformation and distributive justice in this argument. It can be understood that all people experience different lives and their environment and even genes are contributing factors of their chosen actions. Justice is accorded to the best way that it should provide balance in the society. The aim of justice is to reward or punish a person in a accordance with what he had done.

Yet, justice must be utilized by means of metaphorically closing one’s eyes and deciding on every situation with propriety and impartiality for not all convicted criminals are really deviants in the society. In addition, it would be easy to say that those who committed crimes as proven before the courts of justice must be punished in proportion to the gravity of their actions. But we must consider all other things like the frailty of our justice system wherein not all considered guilty is really guilty of a crime.

This argument is not an attack of the justice system but an honest account on how it affects the lives of innocent individuals who were wrongfully accused and convicted of crimes but later on proven not to be guilty after gruelling payment of sentence has been done. Therefore, just desert must be understood as an act of punishing an individual he deserves to be treated but with caution and application of the principles of equity which is justice sweetened with mercy.

Essentially, an individual may have the right to choose between good and evil and it is up to him on how to govern his acts. However, we must consider other factors that contributed to a person’s wrongdoing. It could be that he was just forced to do an act in exchange of his valued life, or he was just a victim of other people’s fraudulent machinations. Hence, it would be unjust to perfectly implement just desert without looking into the two sides of the situation. If justice is to be served for the benefit of all, then why should it be accorded impractically?

Finally, just desert may be a useful judicial philosophy to deter crimes but careful analysis must be done in applying it in the society. Justice is best served when all things must be considered squarely and not only the frailty of human beings. Thus, just desert must be applied with probing eyes and impartial decisions of the mind.


Belrad, B. Associated Content Website. (2008, March 18). Just Desert: Research into Criminal Justice Philosophy. Retrieved October 14, 2008, from http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/657453/just_desert_research_into_criminal. html? cat=17

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