We all expect the States busily to make new
Laws this year. These will require us to do certain things or not
to do certain things. If we, then, fail to do the thing prescribed or do the
thing proscribed (the forbidden thing) we run the risk of being found guilty of
what, in Jersey, is known as an
And there is a very common formula used in Jersey's Laws these days to set out the liability, the
penalty that then falls upon us. For example: '…the person shall be guilty
of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or
to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale [i.e. up to £2,000],
or both.' Jersey's Attorney General always
examines new Laws in draft so as to ensure that the punishment fits the crime:
that the penalties for differing offences are consistent among themselves and
are fitting given the nature and effect of the crime.
The alternative punishments are intriguing.
As well as the fact that both can be required of the
Is £2,000 really equivalent to imprisonment
for six months? And, thinking "outside the box", if the States had to
decide this year upon a new Law under which a particular offence carried a
(genuine) penalty of imprisonment-for-life, should the Law prescribe a level of
fine as an alternative?
No. Because the rich could then get away
That’s why a further (unwritten but
correct) requirement is built into our Laws: it is the guilty who go to jail
and not another person on their behalf.....
And we all agree that ultimately justice
should require of each man and woman a personal accountability for his or her
misdeeds and failures. No substitutes. No scapegoats.
But that is precisely where we are quite
wrong according to Jesus Christ and the Bible.
The Bible, written over a period of perhaps
2,000 years, has always envisaged scapegoats, substitutes for evildoers. Back
in 1350 BC, Leviticus, written by Moses, gave instructions about the sending
into the desert of a goat (chosen by the throw of a dice) that symbolically
bore the punishments that the people should have received.
Sacrifices of bulls and goats over the
centuries in the Jerusalem Temple of King Solomon (BC 979-930) and in the Second Temple
built by Ezra (BC 537-516) were instituted to "take away sin". But those
rituals were only pointing forward to the true scapegoat (see quotation above).
In other words, there is an effective
"Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free" card for each one of us in the Bible: Jesus
Christ the Substitute, who died not for his own offences but for those of
Life-imprisonment? Did you know that the
highest possible Court has sentenced me, Richard Syvret, to that? And rightly
so because I was born wanting the very most and the very best for myself and
wanting nothing, least of all Almighty God, to get in the way of me achieving
my own destiny – good as that appeared to me to be. The sentence is being
carried out now - I am on death row. Death is the awful end of life
imprisonment unless I can find a substitute whilst serving my sentence.
I have found him - or, rather, he has found
me in my prison cell.