Friday, January 25, 2008

Give Them Some of that Old Time Republican Justice

Sometimes I think the Quakers of the days of Ben Franklin had a more advance idea of justice. People went sent to penitentiaries to be penitent about their crimes. Most were sent away for two years maximum. It was felt that most needed two years or less to think about their crimes and reform. Over time, the public became more demanding of "justice" and sentences have been extended and extended, and we have pretended to show how "strong" we are by sending people away for longer and longer periods of time. Yet, we fail to realize, except for the most psychotic of criminals (who likely need different institutionalization other than prison), many crimes are the youthful immature indiscretions that many will outgrow upon reaching greater maturity. Yet, we keep people imprisoned way past reaching this maturity. Instead, people spend years growing more and more bitter and return to society having wasted their youth in prison learning only how to become better criminals from fellow prisoners. Even some past advocates of mandatory sentencing have reversed themselves on this as they realize this is also leaving many families without fathers and that their children are growing more apt to follow their fathers into crime. The societal costs are enormous. We need to rethink are ideas of justice. I do believe many career criminals may need long imprisonments to protect society. Yet many are put away for long years who only become criminals when shorter sentences would have been more effective. Many who have mental problems should be receiving psychological help, which generally is poorly provided for in our prisons. Hopefully someday, we make criminal justice be one that is more justice.


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