Vengeance and Justice?

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon - Justice and Divine Veng...
PJustice and Divine Vengeance Pursuing Crime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just finished a sci-fi novel by John Scalzi called Fuzzy Nation, and it got me thinking about the idea of vengeance and justice. To sum it up, there were a handful of characters in the novel who committed some completely unforgivable act, and I’ve never felt such indescribable rage against a fictional character before. All I wanted was for horrible things to happen to them, and was incredibly unsatisfied by the consequences for their actions.

All that said, I was wondering how others here feel about the ideas of vengeance as justice. I know that Christian culture emphasizes the values of forgiveness and judgement being God’s domain, but pagan history is filled with characters motivated by righteous anger and quests for retribution. Essentially, I was just wondering how other pagans let these emotions effect them, and the role you allow them to take in your personal philosophy.

Personally: When it comes to law/justice, I tend to be fairly liberal. I understand the kinds of circumstances that can lead one to crime, and I think law should focus on reparations to victims first, correction of criminal behavior second, and punishment a distant third. However, some crimes (particularly crimes that affect the defenseless or are completely motivated by greed) make me just want to squeeze people’s heads until they burst. Other than that, I can’t really put my feelings on the matter into words yet.

So, yeah. What do you all think?