What is the relation between Crime and Citizenship and Social Justice?
Elucidating the meaning of citizenship in its social context, Reiner (2010) summarized it as “a reciprocity of rights against, and duties towards, the community” (p. 243). As community changes, so that these rights and duties are shaped as well, changing social views on the legitimacy of one or another behavior that should still be considered reciprocal.
From the historical perspective, however, the eternal existence of such balance is utopian by nature, since various groups within a single community would constantly seek for personal benefits violating personal duties and threatening rights of others. In the most general meaning, these violations are crimes, less or more severe, but still a subject for delivering doses of pain and justice when it deemed necessary (Degenhardt, 2015; Reiner, 2010).
Justice, however, is not seen equivocally by different social groups. Taking, for instance, a death of a significant other in a military operation, one would call offender’s arrest as both criminal and social justice, while isolation and imprisonment of the whole family would rather be considered as social elsewhere. On the other hand, low-income families would see the social justice as having equal access to the same benefits high-income families have, while the latter would seek for social justice in restricting that to the former. In other words, social justice is a tool for regulation of crime and citizenship coexistence, which is seen differently through the prism of social norms by different communities. It is reasonable to consider claims of various social activist groups concerned with the above statement and evaluate them against the reasonability of social justice principles.
LGBT movements, for instance, stand for recognition of equal rights among LGBT and heterosexuals in demonstrating their romantic and sexual involvement publicly. Public expression here, however, has different meaning for adepts and opponents of the movement respectively, where the latter would likely to either consider this as an expression of sickness or, in more respectful way, at least prefer this would not be a part of their “normal” life. LGBT adepts, on the contrary, consider other than heterosexual expression as normal, considering that they should have equal rights in expression of feelings no matter what one’s sexual orientation is. Social justice here is seen differently: while adepts are guided by common principles of equality, opponents seek for recognition of the “normality” of themselves and their families, thus seeing LGBT behavior as deviant and thus criminal. They would likely to also see it as an act against their rights as citizens, where accepted social norms should be guaranteed and advocated by criminal law.
Another social activist group with contradictory social envisioning is the one standing for legalization of cannabis consumption. Cannabis is legally considered as a drug in the majority of developed countries and thus prohibited from distribution and selling in non-medical setting. Simple possession of cannabis results into arrests, with more severe consequences for its distribution. Activists …