Last week we saw what should be the beginning of closure to one of the most significant events that has happened in our community in many years – the conviction of Vasilyi Malyk on an arson charge for burning of the Clearwater Lodge and a home in the community.
The actions of Malyk were a tragedy. We asked the question this week in our opinion poll if justice was served in this case. We are interested in hearing your opinion. I expect from what I have heard around the community, most will vote that they believe it wasn’t.
The question of justice and dealing with people in our judicial system has been a big topic in our state legislature for several years. Senate Bill 91, introduced by Senator John Cogill (R-North Pole), will make significant changes in how the justice system deals with criminals. It is expected to pass before the current session ends.
Oxford Dictionaries defines justice as “just behavior or treatment.” Carrying it a little further, “just behavior” would be behavior that is morally right and fair.
I think most of us look at justice as whether or not everyone is treated equally and fairly. Criminals never treat victims with just behavior. The crime itself is not morally right or fair. The victims can never truly receive justice. The criminal act can never be undone. The victim can never be made whole again.
In our society, crimes are committed against the state. The charging documents are clear: “The State of Alaska versus …” The victim has no say in the charges that are filed, and as is seen in the Malyk case, the ending result from the judicial activity.
The State felt giving Vasilyi Malyk a chance to become a productive member of society was just treatment. Many disagree. Since none of us can see into the future, only time will tell us if the court made the right decision. I’m sure every member of this community, regardless of how they feel about the decision of the judge, hopes she was correct, that Malyk will become a productive member of society.
Unfortunately, if the court was wrong, our community will suffer again.
The victims of this crime, including our entire community, will never receive justice, regardless of what sentence was given to Malyk. No matter how much time he might be incarcerated, no matter what restrictions are placed on his behavior, no matter how much restitution he is ultimately ordered to pay, we will never receive justice.
The question for us is this: Did our society receive justice? For all of our sakes, let’s hope we did.