Laws made to be broken
Edwards argues that laws were created to achieve various ends. One is to reduce the incidence of wrongdoing and the other is holding wrongdoers responsible for their wrongs. He goes on to elaborate how some laws are made to be followed and some are made to be broken. The ones made with the goal of compliance were made to be followed while the ones made with the goal of conviction are made to be broken. The idea of the identification principle was developed by Edwards and it argues that the principle “is an implication of the ideal of the rule of law and that it binds state officials who make, apply and enforce criminal laws “(587).
There are two types of law, according to Edwards, and they try to answer the question is it morally permissible to make a crime. He answers this question by talking about three distinctions used to tell if it is morally permissible. These distinctions are: reasons and permissibly, normative and motivating reasons, and ends and means. Reasons and permissibly is when, “We have reason to do something if one or more considerations count in its favor. We are permitted to do something if the reasons to do it are undefeated by any that countervail (588)”. Normative and motivating reasons are the different ways in which a person could act on something. Considerations people take into count in favor of their actions are their motivation reasons. Lastly ends and means, “ends are those things we seek to bring about for their own sake; means are the things we seek to bring about because bringing them about is a way of achieving (or making it more likely that we will achieve) our ends (589).
These two types of law described by Edwards explains how some were created knowing they will still be broken and the purpose of these laws is to convict people, and the laws created thinking they would be followed were created trying to seek compliance. Laws created with the purpose of conviction were meant to make it easy to convict an offender. The idea of these laws are argued morally, some argue that the laws meant to be broken cannot deliver a just punishment and therefore is not morally right, others agree saying they will result in unjust punishments because prosecutors will make mistakes about which offenders should be punished.
The Identification Principle explained by Edwards says that “it requires that state officials, and state institutions, are subject to the law. It also requires that their conduct is guided by the laws to which they are subject (593)”. Edwards argues that lawmakers who create laws meant to be broken are violating that identification principle. They violate this principle through another idea presented by Edwards known as ‘pre-identified’, this is when a person is pre-identified “as someone who ought to be arrested, in advance of the police determining that there were reasonable grounds to suspect her of the assault for which she was ultimately arrested(594)”, because of these pre-identifications, it is in this way that reasonable grounds to suspect her of assault were later found. When this happens a person is not looked at as someone to be protected, they are looked at as a target.
In my opinion the pre-identification principle can relate heavily to the current black lives matter movement. Pre-identification is when they are identified as someone who should be arrested before there is any ground to arrest them and this happens way more than it should currently. There have been stories about a black male, wearing a hoodie, walking at night being arrested because the police thought he could have been the person running around breaking into cars. In reality the police had no physical ground to arrest him but decided to arrest him anyway because he thought the black male fit the description he was looking for. As I mentioned previously, this pre-identification makes the person feel targeted instead of protected and I believe that is how a lot of black people feel today with everything going on in the news.
To conclude, Edwards thinks that there should be no laws meant to be broken. He feels as thought they are unfair and unjust and violate his principle called the Identification Principle. This principle describes a very real reality that happens often with people of color. I agree with Edwards that there should be no more laws meant to be broken created and I believe all the ones already created should be terminated.