Once again, I have to thank Patrick for saving our bacon. He has been my best friend for a few years, which is funny since he is as conservative as I am liberal. While all of us discussed our plans forward in respect to what system of justice and/or punishment was the right fit for our growing community, Pat played the part of silent observer. I thought at first that it might be because he didn't want to offend some of us with what he would consider offensive ideas, but after a while he did begin asking questions.
When we came to agreement that it would be unwise to just go for the old "eye for an eye" routine and would have to create some system of graded responses, Pat was the one to suggest the most practical and pragmatic route. Old school military style justice.
Allow me to explain:
The military handled a lot of discipline problems in-house, because in combat situations, even in simply combat-ready situations, every soldier counts. You can't just lock a guy (or gal) up for every crime, you need them to be ready if needed. Our situation is, in all practical ways, the same.
It breaks down into three basic levels. (Bear with me, as this will be a dynamic and loose system, changing as circumstances require.) For first offenses of crimes that do not endanger the group or cause serious injury to a person, the violator will be held for a period of no longer than a day in confinement while awaiting judgement and sentence (or release if found innocent). Ellen has been held longer than that already, but we weren't really prepared for this, which is why we set that limit for any future cases. Sentences for these crimes will include confinement when not on duty, hard labor, and when deemed necessary by the committee, extra "combat" duty, or any situation in which the danger of serious injury or death is elevated.
For crimes that cause serious injury or endanger the group or compound, as well as other undefined serious offenses, punishment can include any of the previously stated, and may also include a number of lashes.
This might seem to go too far, and there was a lot of argument about it, but I think this is the direction we will have to go. Merely the threat of lashes, historically, has been enough to demure most people from committing serious crimes. And we agree that in cases, for example, where a person might accidentally let information slip that would lead to danger for the group would not fall into a category punishable in this fashion. We see whipping as the option reserved for those who willfully cause serious injury to others without just cause, willfully endanger the group, etc.
The most serious crimes (and again, this is by no means a complete list at present) are punishable by all of the previous, plus special punishments reserved for the type of crime. In cases of obvious and provable rape, the offender will be castrated. Messily. For cases of rape in which the facts cannot be clearly proven, we reserve the right to severely punish the offender short of castration. This one is tough. The abuse or molestation of children, premeditated murder, and deliberate sabotage (treason) are all punishable by death.
It has been suggested that we keep banishment as an option, but to be honest, I think that doing so to our looter captives before was a bad idea, from a pragmatist's point of view. It made a lot of sense at the time, politically, as it satisfied the majority and kept the peace, but the consensus among us in the committee is that ultimately, it created more danger for the group. Outsiders who come to us with the hope of coexistence will be welcomed. Those who come looking for a fight will get one. If they survive the experience, they will be our captives from then on. Doing useful work for us, mind you, but never to leave again. There is the chance that such a captive would be allowed to become a citizen of our little community here, if they manage to convince every member of the committee of their sincerity and of being truly rehabilitated.
Whew! I didn't plan for this post to become such a dissertation on our plans, but I am glad. We all want you to know that we are thinking about our needs as we grow into a true community. If our numbers continue to increase, we will need to spend a lot of time on thinking about things like this.
All punishments are to be made public, as are the acts that required them. Ellen, for her assault on Darlene, will be serving one week of hard labor, chopping wood. She will be required to stay in her room at her home when off duty. The particular form of labor for this offense is being used due to our current effort to clear all of the trees from this block, and to stockpile the wood for cooking down the road. It is my wildest hope that we will only need to resort to this type of judgement system sparingly. I trust that most of our group will act, if not in a totally civilized manner, at least in their own rational self-interest. We don't want to gather to pass judgement, nor to punish if we can help it. But we will.
Off to help Pat with putting up the post that will serve for holding anyone who receives lashes. Just seeing it there will likely be enough to deter most serious offenses. I know thinking about it makes my stomach go cold, and I haven't even done anything.
Oh, one more thing, totally unrelated. Just another example of the giant pile of awesome that is Patrick--he has been keenly interested for a long time in blacksmithing. When my brother David found this out, he made a little trip to some of the horse farms out on Versailles road. Bless those rich bastards for having the greenbacks to keep ferriers on duty. We now have all the important bits to start a smithy. Pat has some practical knowledge of how this works, and a great deal of self-education on it, so hopefully he will be able to teach himself the fine art of working with metal the way the first smiths did--by trial and error, and experience.
We also plan to go steal those horses. Gas is still fairly plentiful, but every day takes us that much farther from a time when refineries were running and tanker trucks were still delivering. So, horses seem like a good idea. Thoroughbreds, champion horseflesh just sitting there munching grass, waiting for someone to come take them for a ride. Got to love Kentucky.