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At the end of this module you should be able to:
• Discuss why there are
courts to punish us when we have committed a crime
If the opportunity comes up, you can convince yourself that you are only "borrowing" a neighbour's car for a quick ride, but, really, you know you shouldn't take it. You can't honestly borrow something without the owner's permission and really think you have the right to. We're not talking about borrowing a pencil from your brother or a paper clip from your classmate when you know they always let you. It's not the same thing - and we all know it.
So does the owner of the car - and
so do the police.
A couple of boys noticed the local doctor's new car parked in his driveway on an evening when they knew he and his wife were visiting down the street. In a rush the doctor had carelessly left his keys in the ignition.
"That's a dumb thing to do," Tom said; "His car could be stolen with no trouble!" "Let's take a quick spin," Bob answered; "He'll never know we borrowed it. And it's brand new. I've never driven a new car." "You've never driven any car," laughed Tom, opening the door on the driver's side.
Off they went - but not far. Tom got the car wedged into an awkward position at the end of a dead-end street and couldn't turn it around without scraping it on a parked car. Rather than damage the finish on the new car, the boys hopped out in a panic and just left the car.
Meantime, a neighbour who had seen them take the car had called the police, and when the boys arrived back in the neighbourhood to tell the doctor where his car was and to face wrath, they were met by two police officers who were concerned not only for the safety of the doctor's property, but for the safety of the boys as well.
Tom and Bob were taken to Children's Court and placed on probation.
Maybe the two officers remembered investigating another case in another part of the city when two boys, John and Mike, had "borrowed" a stranger's car. There was plenty of petrol in the tank so they decided to take a run out to the hills. They were careful about the speed limit while they were in the city, but once out on the open highway, they let the speed creep up.
Mike was scared, but John called him chicken, and soon he had egged him on until the speedometer reached 137km/hour. This car wasn't new, and the tyres weren't in good condition. Suddenly the left front tyre blew out. Mike clutched the steering wheel in horror. Out of control, the car shot across the road into the path of an oncoming truck. Mike and the truck driver were killed instantly in the head-on collision, but John lived long enough to tell the ambulance attendant what had happened. He was dead on arrival at the hospital.
John and Mike weren't given a chance to explain that they had only wanted an hour's fun. Their case had been taken out of the hands of the court. Tom and Bob had a far lighter punishment, but their crime had been exactly the same as John and Mike's.
You can say that "joy-riding" is just borrowing, but you really know it's a crime.
But what about stealing when you know that you're stealing and simply set out to do it? Take a girl named Lilly, for example. She was caught stealing from a locker at school. It wasn't the first time she had done it, but it was the first time she had been caught.
She was scared half to death. Her parents were called and had to come to the school to talk to the principal. Knowing that she had taken other people's belongings, Lilly also knew that the principal could have called the police and that she could have been questioned about everything that had been reported missing since she had started attending that school.
There had been several thefts she had had nothing to do with. There had even been some vandalism. The students who had been guilty of these crimes had not been caught, 'but she had!'
Her parents were terribly embarrassed. They were amazed and ashamed, and so was Lilly. Her mother asked the principal not to tell anyone what her daughter had done, to give Lilly another chance. She was afraid Lilly would be nervous and feel an outcast if the other children knew. Lilly's parents realized she was guilty of larceny (any theft is a larceny), and they also knew she was miserable about it.
Her father sat her down and gave her a good piece of advice: "Lilly," he told her, "don't ever do anything that will make you ashamed of yourself. Look how you feel! It isn't worth it. If you don't respect yourself, how can you expect other people to?"
It was a hard lesson, but Lilly learned it. Two other girls, Kathy and Sue, got to talking about shoplifting one dull summer afternoon. "I'll bet you're afraid to try it," Kathy challenged Sue.
"I am not! I'M not scared to try anything," replied Sue, who didn't like to be called chicken. The girls talked about it for a while, then decided to try stealing something from a store just to see what it was like.
Going into a big department store, they waited until the shop assistant wasn't watching them. Then Sue slipped an expensive hand kerchief into her pocket. Kathy, watching Sue from another counter, helped herself to a lipstick which she slid carefully into her purse.
They thought they had a lot of courage, and they were thrilled as they headed toward the main door. But as they stepped into the street, a store detective, a woman who looked like any other shopper, stopped the girls and took them to the manager's office.
The manager was very angry - his company loses thousands of dollars to shoplifters every year. He had about lost his patience. He had to call the police, and both girls, frightened and ashamed, eventually had to appear in Children's Court.
When the hearing was held, the girls and their parents were brought before the Magistrate who placed Sue and Kathy on probation and warned them that if they got into any more trouble he would have to send them to one of the Youth Training Centres.
Was the Magistrate just making a nasty threat or would he really send the girls to a training centre? The truth of the matter is he might have to! Hundreds of young people come before him in the course of each year, and he knows from experience that the habit of stealing must be stopped early or the chances of real trouble developing later in the youngster's life can almost be expected.
Online Discussion Activity 3 - What is Justice?
In this assignment you will need to discuss justice in the online forums, AND.......did you like the movie Bangkok Hilton? Good, as part of this assignment you now need to complete an essay concerning this film.
Resources: Exploring motor vehicle theft in Australia and Minister for Justice and Customs