Tue 23 Dec, 2014 02:03 pm
Why do we convict innocent people? We punish innocent people with the death penalty and it happens regularly because justice isn’t perfect. If criminal justice was perfect we wouldn’t have to call it a system but my point here isn’t merely philosophical. Why do we not punish those who hurt innocent people when they’re behind a badge or a corporation or some other entity which seems to exist absent of criminality? There is an answer to this question, my point is not rhetorical.
Why does the system only seem to punish some offenders of crime and why does it so rarely make good to those whom the system harms or are harmed through some form of corruption? The reason is that an individual intention is hard to prove. If a person is motivated by racist feelings, how does one prove that? Even if statistics show that an entire police force, an entire criminal justice system for that matter disproportionately targets certain ethnic or cultural backgrounds, who do you punish?
Our system is designed to produce change in members of our society through crime and punishment. If an error is systemic, if the racism is systemic, then the system has to be put on trial. However, no one has the authority to put the system on trial even when laws are created by politicians who we know have lied and were corrupt. The solution is not to grant that power to one person or one body and call it The Supreme Court, no, we must write into the system a declaration that serves the greater good of society. We must give the criminal justice system the ability to put itself on trial not based around a single case but based around the very purpose of the system itself, the law’s effectiveness to reduce instances of crime.
This might seem like hogwash and that’s because the very idea of a trial has lost all meaning in the modern criminal justice system. Guilt or innocence is not meant to be the purpose of a trial but truth and meaning is. Through the examination of facts and motives the desired outcome is to produce a timeline of the events which surround the crime so as to assess the appropriate punishment or declare that the individual did not commit a crime at all. Yet when prisons are festering with corruption, crime, and all the moral failings one would only expect from hell itself then there can only be one affect, deleterious. In this sense, even the guilty are innocent before they become familiar with prison, afterward they’re merely insane.
It’s this logic, which manifests a nightmarish prison environment for everyone involved that simultaneously fails to condemn those white collar criminals, corporate criminals, and criminal police. Our complacency and the complacency inherent in a system which feeds off of civilians with ever increasing rates of recidivism, an ever widening prison population, and an ever decreasing degree of justice has allowed such a place to be manufactured for millions of our countrymen to endure. One day we will have to change the way we deal with crime. We cannot maintain a system which fails to punish those it condemns by removing them from society and placing them into a situation wherein there’s increasing evidence that our society is wrong. Or to put it another way, what good is it to remove a person from public society if they are placed somewhere without any tangible social order? When we fail to punish those who commit crimes which cause harm to the public good there is no social order to protect.
We do evil (behave stupidly) because in our ignorance we think we are promoting good (being smart). Remember: "Forgive them...for they know not what they do"
3 lines of gold that counter an elaborate and inteligent argument that misses the target. Got love simplicity...
Your argument has some interesting points but is wrong when it fails to understand the ultimate nature of power. Power needs to be respected or it falls. While it can and should evolve, it should't be put on trial.
As primates we are monkeys and as such we respect the boss...dont forget that...A boss on trial (Justice) pretty soon becomes powerless...general disorder follows...There are more discrete ways to evolve the Justice system without whitch hunting...
...oh by the way you also err on the idea of guilt...there is only ignorance, or mental disorders, often both...other then that I liked your post.
Well on the mobile they were 3 lines JL...but I liked your comment, very wise !
This conceptual essay has evolved since I wrote it. I think that this one gets more to the point in that well crafted English simplicity we all implore.
The Purpose of Prison
The purpose of prison is two-fold. The first is to protect society by separating dangerous criminals from the civilian population. Secondly it is meant to rehabilitate. Taking away a driver’s license is an alternative to imprisoning a person by making it illegal for them to drive. It satisfies both folds, that person cannot drive and must learn other forms of transportation which are less convenient as a result of their having skirted the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle. Unless incarceration provides a legitimate means for this to occur then it’s leaving their rehabilitation to chance.
If a criminal is a drug user and you put them into a prison where the drug use is even more diseased by the black market manifested through the drug war which is even further exacerbated by the psychological torment which occurs during the prison experience; the perfect storm for addiction is realized. Unless an individual is presently a danger to other members of society they should not be locked away especially not in a place where there are others who pose a serious danger to them. Never does society itself need to be protected for the sake of its own purity; this is merely a tool of tyrants wearing white.
There are so many other ways to punish a person besides prison and the truth is all of these ways exist in America. What also exists in the U.S. is an insane prison population that seems to be politically untouchable because it just keeps growing. The psychological effects of prison are not economical, not sustainable, and not humane. They should ONLY be used when a person poses an imminent risk to other free members of that society. In America, this would reduce our prison population many, many times over.
There are so many other ways to punish a person besides prison and the truth is all of these ways exist in America...They should ONLY be used when a person poses an imminent risk to other free members of that society.
Such as...what? I get it. You don't like prisons. Who does? What's this "alternative" punishment supposed to be? How would you "punish" an armed robber or a rapist, for example? 100 lashes? Put in stockades on the town square? The rack? What?