Criminals rot for years in Tennessee prisons such as this one in Bledsoe County. (Photo DLR Group)

Criminals rot for years in Tennessee prisons such as this one in Bledsoe County. (Photo DLR Group)

Because Tennessee has embraced a man-centered system of justice, the prosecution by district attorney Neal Pinkston against Johnthony Walker in the yellow school bus crash case will be unable to bring justice and restitution to bear.

By David Tulis / Noogaradio AM 1240 FM 101.1

Mr. Walker is being charged with six criminal counts each of vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment and at least one count of reckless driving.

Cordayja Jones, 9, and five other children were killed under Mr. Walker’s care as he crashed his bus on Talley Road on Nov. 21. Two days later, five children remained in a hospital intensive care unit.

The charges could be upgraded if it is determined that Mr. Walker intended to take the lives of the children, and even perhaps his own life, by racing the bus on a winding road off his route and crashing it. A mother of three passengers, one of whom perished, is quoted as saying that her children told her that Mr. Walker, seconds before the crash, turned to them and demanded, “Are you ready to die?”

The people of Tennessee and their general assembly have rejected biblical concepts of justice and equity that frame American common law. Justice has come into the care of the state, and serves its interests, not those of God nor the people whom it ostensibly protects.

The rejection of justice in exchange for a state-centered system of policing, adjudication and official slavery comes at the price of the victims’ not receiving compensation for their losses. Tennessee’s judicial-industrial complex rejects the basic rule of equity that requires their compensation.

Eye for eye, life for life

The biblical requirement for justice comes under the legal doctrine of lex talionis. The “law of retaliation” requires equal treatment for an offense or crime. In other words, if I take out your left eye by negligence, my left eye is forfeit. If I take out a left lower incisor tooth, my left lower incisor is forfeit. One passage reads as follows in Exodus, chapter 21.

“But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” The context is a law pertaining to injury to a pregnant woman by two men fighting and early expulsion of her child.

The Lord Jesus upholds the standard in the Sermon on the Mount, quoting its provisions and increasing its claims down into the inner man, his soul and intentions.

Beyond reach of Pinkston

To make practical and operational this rule of equity, the biblical mandate for justice creates effectively a flesh auction or a means whereby the malefactor can pay ransom for life or limb. It has in view that the injured party can exact the physical loss of limb upon the perpetrator.

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In the flesh auction, the perpetrator bids on the value of his own eye, his own tooth. He bids on it because under equity his victim has a right to pluck his eye, uproot his tooth from his mouth.

The offender enters a flesh auction to keep his organ intact. He offers an alternative compensation, to dissuade the offended party from meting out to him his just desserts. He proposes perhaps ounces of gold, F$150,000 in cashier’s check, land or property, a business, some other asset.

What is my eye worth to me? What is my hand worth to me? What is my foot worth to me? As the offender, I am effectively ransoming my limbs, buying them back from you so that you won’t take them from me. I face the question: Are you my victim willing to accept money in exchange for the satisfaction of having my eye poked out or of having my arm removed in exchange for yours?

By this auction or ransoming process, the perpetrator compensates his victim, with the injured body part being the maximum specified sanction, as Gary North says in his book, Victims’ Rights.

None of these compensatory mechanisms are part of district attorney Neil Pinkston’s palette of papers, processes and criminal court claims before judge and jury.

Mr. Pinkston represents a complex that serves the state — and not justice. The pinnacle of this cartel is the Tennessee Department of Correction, an agency that is part of the executive branch headed today by Gov. Bill Haslam and enslaves more than 20,000 people in 14 prisons, three of which are run by a for-profit corporation.

Slavery prospers in Tennessee

No one should express dismay at state slavery. The Tennessee constitution allows for slavery upon conviction of a crime, as does the federal constitution. ‡ The prison system in 2015 had expenditures of F$864.35 million, according to the state’s comprehensive annual financial report for the year.

Because Mr. Pinkston is forbidden to serve God and victim, he faces numerous absurdities. He prosecutes his case without meeting the requirements of standing. The proceedings, styled State of Tennessee v.  Johnthony Walker, pretends the state is the offended party. But under the rules for standing it cannot possibly be, because it is unable to show itself in any way injured. God is the true offended party of any crime. The state, having replaced God, is the chief offended party.

A prosecution seeking true justice would have the state as guardian of the victims and the survivors. Its case would perhaps be styled Cordayja Jones, her estate, ex rel State of Tennessee v. Johnthony Walker. Here, the girl’s estate acts ex rel, or on the relation of, state government, the state bringing its weight on her side and prosecuting her claims as trustee or steward.  ‡‡

Godly justice also has in view the person of the perpetrator. If justice were to be sought, Johnthony Walker would be able to make good for his careless acts (assuming they are not subject to capital punishment, as would be murder). He would be able to restore himself to civil society once his debt is paid to all claimants.

Here, however, we have five slain, and more than half a dozen seriously maimed. Mr. Walker might never get out from under his obligations. But he might; if he has some genius or gift, he might be able in working in the  marketplace  to come up with assets to generate a revenue stream.

If he begun the process of restitution and compensation, he would have occasion for new purpose, new relationships, chances to win forgiveness for the debt he clearly cannot pay, like the man in Christ’s parable, the steward who is forgiven a fortune but who sinfully exacts a small debt from a fellow servant. A man forgiven a debt but cannot pay must also forgive those indebted to him, if they plead to him. Mr. Walker in a biblical system might be able to win a reprieve from those to whom he owes the debt, people who extends to him a mercy and who decline to assert to finality their rights under court-approved settlement.

The flesh market, the ransoming of body parts in cases such as this, would put  the state and judge in a much better light. They would work to bring restoration to the families of the dead, and to put Mr. Walker in a position of actually doing good to his fellow man. As a state slave in prison he suffers the despair and moral degredation of those behind bars, paid for by taxpayers. As a private slave, he practices his trade and does all in his power to make good to his victims. His employer’s insurance helps make up the rest.

As it is, the victims have no recourse and no prospect of restitution except by private litigation, with the attorney getting 33 percent of any payout under the routine contingency payment arrangement.


A Chattanooga attorney I questioned about this problem insists victims do receive justice. They have rights in the criminal process, including the right to be involved in sentencing and to be informed if the defendant gets parole. These benefits hardly compensate for the loss of justice and restitution.

With the demands of lex talionis and equity in view, the platitudes of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and condolences of other state officials after the yellow bus deaths seem so much hot hair. “We’re going to do everything we can to assist in any way,” Mr. Haslam says. “It’s a sad situation anytime there’s a school bus with children involved ***. We will do everything we can to assist in what I think is going to be a very sad situation.”

Crocodile tears. The people of Tennessee have not demanded justice in the deaths of five children, and Gov. Haslam and the system his people have built promise not to deliver it.

— David Tulis hosts a show 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays at Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1 FM, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.

Source: Gary North, Victim’s Rights (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990),  316 pp

‡ The grant of state slavery is in the bill of rights, which in Article 1, section 33, says: “That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this state.” The federal constitution is like it: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist ***.” (13th  amendment, 1864)

‡‡ I may have this point backward. It may be, State of Tennessee, ex rel Cordayja Jones, her estate, v. Johnthony Walker. The state moves on her behalf, with the girl’s estate as relator, informer and prime mover.

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