On occasion, government-employed police can solve a crime of violence – assuming that the act is captured on video, the offender makes a point of mugging for the camera in close-up, and the clip is disseminated to a large social media audience. Closing the case is even easier when the assailant is a veteran of the criminal “justice” system, and his whereabouts are well-known.
Given all of those advantages, police in Atlantic City were able to arrest Ibn Hunter for punching a homeless 45-year-old woman in an unprovoked attack that left the victim with serious brain trauma. Clearing this case was not beyond the police department’s competence – once others had done the leg work.
In the video, a glassy-eyed Hunter is seen taunting the unnamed victim, who had apparently warned the gibbering predator to stay away from her dog.
“I ain’t gonna do what?” he asks the cringing woman in a confrontational tone. “I ain’t gonna grab you? I ain’t gonna do what?” Crippled America: How ... Best Price: $1.48 Buy New $8.97 (as of 03:40 EST - Details)
“She said you ain’t gonna smack her dog,” a female onlooker shouts from the sidelines.
Goaded by an accomplice who records the scene on his cell phone, Hunter winds up theatrically and then slugs the woman in the side of the head.
“Bing!” exclaims the cretinous sidekick. “It’s o-o-over!”
Hunter struts over to the camera, boasting in barely intelligible language through rotted dentition that this “is what happens when you say I ain’t going to smack you, bitch. So any you bitches talk that stupid sh*t gonna get knocked the f**k out like that.”
As Hunter savored his triumph, his comrade trained the camera on the unconscious victim, whose left temple displayed what appears to be the beginning of a nasty hematoma. The woman was hospitalized for severe head trauma. Hunter, according to The Press of Atlantic City, was arrested for aggravated assault.
The criminal “justice” system has been Hunter’s intimate companion for more than one-third of his twenty-five years. Arrested for cocaine possession at age 16, Hunter was on probation until his 18th birthday. As a chronological adult, this depraved man-child graduated to actual crimes of violence, including burglary. This is a very familiar trajectory of people who are placed in a system that designates the fictive entity called the “state” as the primary victim, and treats offenders as fodder for the prison-industrial complex.
According to the FBI, in 2013 police made 11,302,102 arrests. Fewer than a half-million (480,360) were for crimes of violence. Arrests for property crimes (1,559,284) were more than doubled by arrests for drug-related offenses, if DUIs are included in that category, as they should be. Those figures were very representative of the criminal “justice” system’s priorities: The overwhelming majority of arrests and prosecutions deal with politically defined offenses, rather than actual crimes against persons and property.
Furthermore, even in cases arising from criminal injury to an innocent individual, the government seizes top billing as the wounded party. This is why the “state” is named as the accuser in a criminal case, rather than the actual victim, and the alleged criminal act is described as an offense against “the peace and dignity of the state” – rather than an act of violence against a specific injured party.
In his seminal essay “Call the COPS – But Not the Police,” Carl Watner traces the pedigree of this iniquitous practice to the Norman Conquest of England. One lamentable result of that development was the replacement of the Anglo-Saxon system of justice, which focused on restitution for the victim, with a feudal order built upon the “frankpledge.” Rather than seeking restitution for victims of crime, officials in the feudal system were devoted first and foremost to royal revenue collection.
Offenses of any kind committed in the realm were seen as opportunities to enrich the sovereign, and only incidentally as abhorrent acts that injured an innocent party. Royal courts worked tirelessly to expand the king’s jurisdiction, which was enforced by royal appointees called shire-reeves (from which the term “sheriff” is derived). Eventually, royal enactments criminalized efforts by victims to seek private restitution. This was seen as cheating the sovereign out of what was supposedly due to him.
This concept of the “King’s Peace” was the distant but unmistakable progenitor of the modern conceit that the abstraction called “society” is a victim of criminal offenses – even those in which no individual has been injured.
In a sense, Ibn Hunter, like other youthful offenders, was treated as an apprentice, rather than an offender. The prison system, including its probation and parole section, is an immensely lucrative enterprise, and recidivism is a profit multiplier. Granted, there are externalities, but those are borne by the public – such as the pathetic middle-aged homeless woman who was attacked by Hunter in a public park in the presence of several intimidated male spectators.
Like the impulse toward casual violence exhibited by Hunter, the bovine docility displayed by the males who witnessed his crime has been diligently cultivated by the state. For more than a century Americans have been relentlessly hectored about the supposed evil of people “taking justice into their own hands” – as if justice for crimes against the individual belonged in the hands of anybody else.
Writing at the turn of the 20th Century, British scholar and prison reformer William Tallack observed that the state-centered, “scientific” approach to penology was already a proven failure:
“Imprisonment, even under its best modern conditions, is attended by grave disadvantages; whilst, in its most prevalent forms of administration, it too often tends to the deterioration of the offender, both in body and in soul, rather than to his improvement…. Meanwhile, even effectual deterrence is often lacking, as indicated by the large proportion of re-convictions in most countries.”
Furthermore, the “subject of wanton injury [is] left without reparations” – and even when fines or other punitive measures are imposed, “the offender is not [personally] subjected to these disadvantages,” nor is the victim directly compensated. If confined in prison, the offender merely enrolls in “`a school for vice and every kind of corruption.’” Upon graduation – in many of not most instances – the inmate becomes a more skillful and ruthless criminal.
The objective of any genuinely civilized society in dealing with criminal offenses, Tallack contended, is “exacting, as a primary mode of penal treatment, the satisfaction, as far as possible, of the injured party.”
Over the past eight centuries, this practice of retributive justice was supplanted by a state-centered system.
Although criminologist Stephen Schafer subscribed to the idea that “society” was a victim in every criminal offense, he agreed with Tallack that the existing legal order has removed restitution to the victim from the equation. “As the state monopolized the institution of punishment, so the rights of the injured were slowly separated from penal law,” Schafer observed nearly six decades ago.
One predictable, albeit perverse, result of this inversion of priorities was the combination of comparative leniency in dealing with violent offenders, and severity in punishing those convicted of offenses against “society” and the state.
“It was chiefly owing to the violent greed of feudal barons and medieval ecclesiastical powers that the rights of the injured party were gradually infringed upon, and finally, to a large extent, appropriated by these authorities, who exacted a double vengeance, indeed, upon the offender, by forfeiting his property to themselves instead of to his victim, and then punishing him by the dungeon, the torture, the stake or the gibbet,” Tallack pointed out in 1900. “But the original victim of wrong was practically ignored.”
Even if Ibn Hunter is sent to prison for a potentially fatal assault on a helpless woman, he will not be immured for the rest of his life, spending his final days chained to his bed, separated from his family, in the agonizing final stages of cancer. That variety of sub-medieval official sadism is reserved for political prisoners such as the late Irwin Schiff. Designated a “tax defier” by the Regime, Schiff was sent to the federal prison in Angola, Indiana for the supposed crime of publicly discussing a book he had written about the Internal Revenue Service, in defiance of an unconstitutional edict by a federal judge.
Schiff’s only “victim” was the state – which is why the state showed him no leniency.
In a free society, wrote Murray Rothbard in The Ethics of Liberty, “there are … only two parties to a dispute or action at law: the victim, or plaintiff, and the alleged criminal, or defendant. It is the plaintiff that presses charges in the courts against the wrongdoer…. [T]here would be no crimes against an ill-defined `society,’ and therefore no such person as a `district attorney’ who decides to charge and then presses those charges against an alleged criminal.”
One significant step in the direction of freeing ourselves from the murderous fallacy that the “state” is a party in the justice system would be to empty its prisons of people who have not committed crimes against persons or property, and to abolish all agencies, task forces, and other government entities involved in investigating and prosecuting victimless offenses (such as the sale, possession, and consumption of drugs, and other vices that are now treated as crimes). This would reduce the prison population by at least sixty to eighty percent, and lead to a corresponding reduction in the police state apparatus.
Restitution must likewise be re-enthroned as the central principle of an actual justice system.Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett summarizes the matter with compelling concision: “The armed robber did not rob society; he robbed the victim. His debt, therefore, is not to society, it is to the victim.”
Ibn Hunter may go to prison. During his sentencing hearing, he may expel verbiage amounting to an “apology” to the woman he could easily have killed. Neither his prison sentence nor the mangled sentences he spits in the direction of that woman will provide the victim with a particle of material compensation for her injuries and the medical bills that result.
If, on the other hand, Hunter were sentenced to a term of indentured servitude until he had earned enough to compensate the victim directly – rather than being assigned a prison job at slave wages in the employ of a politically connected corporation — some measure of palpable justice would result.
That outcome is precisely the kind of thing the current system is designed to prevent, which is among the most compelling arguments for destroying it root and branch.