Law and Order continued....
In modern penal codes, restitution by the offender is
sometimes taken into account, but it does not seem to figure largely in the
verdict. The judge may direct in this respect, and of course, the aggrieved
party can always petition for compensation. For example, a criminal involved in
fraud and known to possess large sums of money obtained from his crimes (and
probably hidden) the Courts can commandeer and recover such funds.
There is also a law which forbids criminals from profiting
from their misdemeanours, such as selling their stories to the media etc.
There are instances in the Bible where restitution was
mandatory. Under Israeli law, if a man stole a sheep or an ox, he was ordered
to restore four sheep for each one stolen and five for each ox stolen. This meant that
stolen property was returned with 300% or 400% interest! Again in the New
Testament there is the famous story of Zaccheus who obviously became
conscience-stricken when he met Jesus. He declared 'if I have taken anything
from anyone by false accusation, I will restore him fourfold'. In the days when
that law was operating it would be a powerful deterrent, and if the offender
could not or would not restore what he had purloined he had the option of
selling himself as a slave.
There were no prisons as such in Israel, but six 'cities of
refuge' were designated to which anyone who was guilty of an offence such as
murder or manslaughter could flee pending a fair trial. The cities were
a safeguard against any relatives of a victim taking the law into their own
hands. It is understood that under Islamic procedures today the families of
victims are sometimes consulted about the punishment to be adminstered to the
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