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July 06, 2009

Getting things done

Justice Fellowship president Pat Nolan is quoted in this article about Sen. Jim Webb's efforts to reform the criminal justice system.

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jason taylor

I'm not sure I get what the proposal is though. The chief reason for prisons today is mostly because no one can think of anywhere else to put it's inhabitants(I suppose we can try Australia again but LeeQuod might object).

Given that, I suppose we could have fewer prison sentences for non-violent crime. I have started to think that burglarizing residences(as opposed to business facilities, say) should be deemed as violent, or at least as a sort of aggravated burglary because people should feel safe in their home but that is a side issue. White collar crime really isn't of the same order as violent crime. Nor is petty theft, and so on.

The proposals of public service, restitution and the like are all very well. The problem is that they only work with a criminal that has some strong connection to the community to restore. A gangster is more concerned with his standing in the "undercommunity". And a many criminals are the detritus(to use an unkind and dehumanizing anology for lack of ability to come up with a better)of urban blight and thus does not have a community. In such cases where is the hold over them? Restorative justice really depends on either having repentance or having something for society to hold as hostage so to speak.

Even then there are complications. Using the restoration of respectability as an inducement only goes so far simply because it not only has to fight human unforgiveness, it has to fight prudence. A molester for instance, can never again be fully trusted. Nor can a traitor.*

Corporeal punishment is generally regarded as barbaric today and given the extremes to which it can be taken that is just as well. But it does have the advantage that it can be done and forgotton and thus can be more merciful then prison. The notorious caning of Mr Bratty Little Grafiti Artist in Singapore was probably exactly the right penalty.

Shameing has advantages. Unfortunatly it depends on a community with a cohesion which no longer exists.

With all this said the fact is that people in prison are often there simply because no one knows where else to put them. And that fact is really not going away.

*Pollard should probably be locked up as a "to encourage the others" because it is to easy for an agent from a rival power to arrange a false flag. But in the future we should probably be sporting with our allies about that sort of thing and simply arrange ransoms and exchanges and use exile as a penalty. Unfortunate as it is, allies spy on each other, we do so to, and the best that can be done is to have more of a sense of humor then we would with an enemy.

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