Justice?

Kari Hoegh - Ecuador


March 8, 2017

19.08.16


The other day my
host dad called out to me that the town had caught a robber. He seemed very
excited and asked if i wanted to go see him. Surprised, unsure of what he meant,
i said yes of course, i mean new exeriences, right? As we got closer to where
the robber had been caught the crowd was growing larger. I was growing more and
more unknowing. When i finally caught a glimpse of the ‘ladron’ i was taken
aback. The townspeople were attached a large, heavy milk canister to his back.
As I asked my host dad what was going on, he simple said ‘punishment’.

 

You see, in
indigenous communities, there are two sets of law, the one set by the local
community and the one enforced by the state. It is a balance trying to allow
the old traditions whilst enforcing democratic law. The penetence is decided by
the victims of the crime, in this case it involved carrying the milk canister
to the town church, where the ladron was whipped. All the while, the local
pólice was present to watch and make sure that the punishment did not go out of
hand, and after took the culprit to formal jail.

 

As i was bearing
witness to this, i was in shock. In my head I kept comparing what i was seeing
to what i had read and studied about punishment in medievil england. No, the
robbers hand wasnt being cut off, but he was being given a physical punishment,
inflicting pain and public humiliation. 
As i was digressing over this, I began comparing it to our own punishment
to criminals, spending time locked up, without freedom, often with more
negative impact than good.

 

This form of
penetence creates community safety and building. A sense of pride is brought by
the ability to regulate and pólice their own communities, realistacally
embracing the ladrones. In our communities we push away those who have done
wrong, institualizing them and their misfortune, paying for their punishment.

 

Is freedom better
than pain?

Kari Hoegh