Crime and Punishment

What is the role of the criminal justice system? Deterrence? Rehabilitation? Revenge?

If maximizing pubic safety is the ultimate goal, rehabilitation is the most desirable result. Realistically, though, it isn’t always possible. Many career criminals are sociopaths, and not amenable to rehabilitation. Where rehabilitation isn’t feasible, deterrence may still be effective. Most sociopaths are rational; they just have no empathy or conscience.

To be an effective deterrent, the consequences of a crime must far outweigh the benefits, and the odds of incurring the consequences must be high. Today, that isn’t always the case, due to insufficient law enforcement and criminal justice resources.

If a criminal is not amenable to rehabilitation or deterrence, they must be permanently removed from society to prevent further opportunities for them to prey on others. That means either execution or permanent incarceration.

I support the death penalty only for murderers or sadistic serial sex offenders. The death penaly is important for the very reason that it deters people from killing their victims when they commit other serious crimes. Once they’ve crossed the line that makes them eligible for execution, they have nothing more to lose and a great deal to gain by eliminating the only person who can testify against them.

Maintaining criminals in prison is expensive, but we could both offset the expense and promote rehabilitation by requiring all prisoners who are capable of working to work. I see no reason why those who have already been convicted of preying on society should live at the taxpayers’ expense while contributing nothing in return.

Working an eight hour day is a good habit to get into for anybody who’s expected to become a productive member of society after they’re released. Prisoners who are rehabilitatable should be given jobs where they can develop a marketable skill, if possible. For those who should never be released, it would at least help defray the cost of keeping them incarcerated. Prisoners who refuse to work should have their priveleges cut and their rations reduced to subsistence level.

Some people might contend that such treatment would be inhumane. I cannot agree. Citizens who don’t commit crimes have to work to earn their living. Why should criminals be exempt?


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Published in: on December 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great idea, but who will hire them? Can’t look good on a resume. I think they should come up with a separate “system” for all the drug offenders & that would free up more space for the murderers, rapists & child molesters.
    I think the drug offenders are more rehabilitative than people who’ve been involved in violent crimes. I work in a jail. You really get a different perspective. I like the Sheriff who has them in tents in the desert wearing pink.

  2. Cezhart, did you read my previous post on “There Ought to be a Law! — Or Ought There?” I agree with you about drug offenders. In fact, I don’t think they should be in prison at all, unless they commit other crimes. The same goes for perpetrators of other “victimless crimes.”

    There are employers who will hire parolees and ex-cons. Many won’t, but some will. If they came out of prison with a marketable skill and a good record of doing their job reliably and competently while in prison, not shirking or slacking, and they have a good attitude, there may be more employers willing to take a chance.

    It all depends on the individual, what they did time for, and how rehabilitated they actually are. Some criminals aren’t interested in rehabilitation. But some end up in prison because they got caught up in the wrong circumstances, or did something stupid, and know they did wrong and regret it.

    I believe in the potential for redemption and that genuine rehabilitation is possible. But I don’t think it happens by sitting on one’s butt watching television and swapping stories with other criminals. People are learners, by nature. No matter where you put them, they’re going to learn something. The problem is, if the prisoners learn from each other, the things they’re likely to learn are not likely to be conducive to rehabilitation. The first thing most of them need to learn is discipline. If they get as far as mastering self-discipline, there’s hope for rehabilitation.

  3. “I like the Sheriff who has them in tents in the desert wearing pink.”
    Sheriff Joe is a scumbag who should be publicly castrated. Cops are subhuman thugs, and should generally be thrown into the sea.

  4. Also, ‘free will’ is a meaningless pseudo-position invented by religious morons.


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