Brookfield Basics

A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.

Crime and Punishment

After the vandalism to the Brookfield East football field I wrote a brief piece entitled How Proud They Must Be, and ended it with the comment, “let’s let the retribution fit the crime if we are lucky enough to find who did it”.   Well Brookfield’s finest have arrested the responsible youth, and now the question of punishment is a real, rather than a rhetorical consideration. We don’t yet know the motivation behind this act, but for me, his motivation ceased to matter the moment the tires of his rented SUV began shredding Spartan field. 

The damage incurred consists of two parts.  Qualitatively - hundreds of people were denied the use of the field for several weeks.  Quantitatively - the repair of the field cost a lot of money.  So if justice is sought in this matter, what might it contain?

Twenty-four hundred years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato defined justice as “rendering unto each man his due”.  While this definition may be a bit abstract, we should not be too hasty to dismiss it.  The wisdom of the ancients led them to weave the concept of restitution into their system of law and societal governance.  That concept was built upon the notion that a criminal should be required to put aright that which his actions had undone. 

If a Court is to pursue Plato’s “rendering”, it should consider the interests of the residents of our community as well as this youth’s debt to “society”.  In my view, justice would require this young man to pay for the cost of the repair, in addition to whatever other sanctions our statutes may prescribe.   Whether it takes him six months or six years to accomplish this is secondary.  And who knows, one day he may even face himself and say, “I learned a valuable lesson”.


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