Friday, November 24, 2006

If Only Thanksgiving were for all of us.

It seems that a liberal Defense Attorney is depressed this holiday season, her criminal clients are sitting in jail, awaiting trial, or in prison, serving their sentences, for non violent crimes.

Before I address the text of her post, I would like to say one thing on a purely personal level. Ms. Merritt, I am very sorry to hear about your Mother being ill, and I sincerely hope she experiences a fast and complete recovery.

Now, to the political/social side of the issue. First, I have addressed the criminal justice system previously.

It would seem that she believes if no one is harmed physically, then no crime is committed.

This by the way is the street basketball "no blood no foul" approach to criminal law.

...I live in a peculiar world, one that is filled with days spent visiting mostly non-violent prisoners in jails, and it saddens me that for them and their children and parents, I see little hope.

Translation from Max: Her Clients aren't falsely accused, they are criminals, who actually committed the crimes, and she longs for the day when they aren't crimes and are accepted by society.

I spent the afternoon with a formerly well-to-do businessman, his wife and daughter as they tried to accept that he would be going to prison for a few years for an economic crime he never thought was against the law. The tears, the sadness, the coming to grips with reality -- is it really necesary?

Yes, you see if we don't punish those who commit economic crimes, then every company in the world would be run like Enron, defrauding investors, stealing from millions, and then laughing because economic crimes aren't really crimes in your world. So what if Grandma is defrauded by some scumbag and is living on the street, apparently that is better than some poor businessman who committed a crime, he didn't realize was a crime, go to Prison.

In a way, I almost agree with Jeralyn Merritt. I don't want to see the Prisons filled either. I believe that punishment should be cruel, and unusual. If punishment isn't cruel, then the punishment tends not to be effective. If the punishment isn't unusual, then it is common, and thus it's deterrent value is negligible at best.

For example, instead of a stiff fine, a few hours in jail, a hundred or so hours of community service for drunk driving, we were to give the offender 30 lashes in the public square, wouldn't that be a bigger deterrent than the above? Not only for the offender, but for any witnesses, wouldn't the flogging of the convicted offender be useful to the public? Drunk Driving arrests would plummet like a stone tossed off a bridge. Drunk Driving checkpoints would become a thing of the past, needless, because no one would risk a public flogging for one more drink.

Jail and Prison are intended to be punishment for violating the rules of civilization, and they are failing, because the population of the establishments are growing. They don't serve the deterrent value that we would hope they would, thus we need to reconsider our approach to the punishment. Punishment is something to be avoided, and the simplest way to avoid punishment is not to commit the crime.

I am sorry Ms. Merritt, I don't feel compassion for those who are in jail or prison for violating social rules we call laws. They had a choice, do something, or don't do something, and they made the decision, perhaps ill or uninformed, to commit the crime. While I can understand sentence mitigation for the uninformed, I can't understand, nor support no punishment for the crime.

No blood no foul isn't a good way to play a game, and an even worse way to maintain a civilized society.



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