There are criminals in every corner of the earth where humans live. Every human is designed to achieve their desires; crimes come from pursuing the wrong way of achieving those desires. All countries throughout history have enacted laws to protect their nations from criminals. Also, there were reasonable and punitive systems to punish criminals and establish justice. The countries that have maintained security and justice have had a long-life, and this mechanism resulted in constitutionalism.
There are still a lot of crimes in Korea, even though criminal investigation technologies have been developed and social securities are assured. Furthermore, there are lots of cruel social crimes, like unmotivated assaults and murders. Of course, the criminals are quickly arrested and those criminals don’t pose a big threat to public security. But the point is that there is no reasonable criteria for punishment. Sometimes the punishment for brutal criminals is too light for their offending crime. And the public becomes seized with fear because brutal repeat offenders are released after only a few years in prison.
So, the public is clamoring for more reasonable criteria for punishments. When the court sentences criminals, they refer to modality standards. Modality standards are the official criteria designed for rational and reasonable judgements and sentences. Modality standards are enacted by the Modality Standard Committee in the Korean Supreme Court. When the Committee enacts modality standards, they consider the frequency of the crimes and their influence on society to set the order of enaction.
Thankfully, but unfortunately, brutal crimes like murder and assault occur less often than drunk driving and theft. So, the Modality Standard Committee enacts modality standards on misdemeanors first. As a result, if a cruel crime – one that will shock the whole society happens – there’s no clause for a particular crime method. The factors which inflict cruelty on most crimes are brutal crimes. And in most of the cruel murder crimes, murderers use unique tools. But if there’s no particular modality standard, those brutal crimes are considered to be the same as a normal crime. Of course, it is not for normal people to decide the Modality Standard Committee’s agenda. But the committee should listen to the needs and concerns of society.
Comparing crime victims’ despair is meaningless. There is no less vicious criminal. Besides, the social impact from brutal crimes cannot be ignored. Establishing reasonable and detailed standards and precise execution are as important as preventing the crime itself. In the view of constitutionalism, it can be divided into formal constitutionalism and practical constitutionalism. Korea advocates for practical constitutionalism; the protection of human dignity and practical equality are its basis. And the participation of the people should be supported for the realization of justice in practical constitutionalism.
In addition, we can find holes in the legal system about the statute of limitations. A few months ago, Lee Chun-jae was caught and found guilty of Korea’s longest unsolved murder case, the Hwaseong serial murder case. This was possible because investigation technologies have evolved to a more advanced level than the past. However, there is no way to punish him now because of statute of limitations has expired. He is accused of raping and killing 14 people and raping 16 others. But his last murder case was in 1991, so its statute of limitations ran out in 2006 because the statute of limitations for murder is 15 years.
Even from this singular example, the nation should equip itself with accurate and detailed criminal laws commensurate with its more diverse and cruel criminals. It does not mean we should neglect drunk driving, theft, or fraud. However, when the crime is more vicious, its punishment shouldn’t be lighter. The Modality Standard Committee should enact accurate and detailed modality standards to establish social justice.