Justice Addiction


Founder of Nonjustice Foundation Tells PA Legislators Rising Murder Rate in Philadelphia Caused by “Justice Addiction”


PHILADELPHIA, PA (March 30, 2007) Attorney, author, and founder of the Nonjustice Foundation James P. Kimmel, Jr., J.D., Esq. testified before a hearing of the Judiciary Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives seeking solutions to the rising murder rate in Philadelphia that the increase in murders can be scientifically linked to “justice addiction”–a recently discovered biological craving for justice in the form of revenge.

“Recent studies published in the Journals Science and Nature demonstrate that seeking justice by punishing others activates pleasure centers in the brain and gives people, especially males, a high not unlike the high of heroin that can become a biologically compulsive addiction,” Kimmel said.

“These studies add strong empirical support to my own research and experiences as a lawyer that seeking justice in the form of revenge is the underlying cause of human violence. These studies also support recent findings by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson that the vast majority of murders in Philadelphia are the result not of drug violence but of people seeking justice during simple disputes.”

“The indisputable scientific facts are these: It feels intensely gratifying, at least for a moment, to put a bullet in somebody who disrespected you,” Kimmel explained. “If it didn’t feel so good, these men wouldn’t be doing it, because it’s entirely against their self interest–they risk injury and death by engaging in this behavior and yet they do it anyway, despite the efforts of the police and the District Attorney. The bottom line is that we have a situation here in Philadelphia where a large number of people in our community are addicted to getting justice in the form of murder.”

What should the Pennsylvania legislature being doing to help? “Well,” Kimmel said, “like other addictions, the first step is to admit publicly that we have a problem.”

Kimmel suggested four concrete steps for the legislature to take in the coming weeks:

  1. Acknowledge and declare that justice addiction is a major public health problem that is taking thousands of lives in Pennsylvania.
  2. Hold Judiciary Committee hearings inside prisons around the state and take the testimony of the inmates there whose lives have been ruined because of this deadly addiction. “Ask the men who commit murder to explain why they do it, Kimmel said. You will find that although their circumstances are different, they all shared one thing in common before they killed–an intense, uncontrollable craving for justice.”
  3. Provide funding and direct the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health to conduct research into the justice addiction from a public health perspective.
  4. Provide funding and direct the Pennsylvania Attorney General to conduct research into the justice addiction from a criminal justice perspective.