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The abomination of jail-An un-Jesus like institution

The evidence collected to date, clearly indicates that the system of incarceration employed globally, to ostensibly punish legal offenders and less convincingly protect society, has failed. Sending boys and men to jail simply does not work, and in fact what has been more definitively demonstrated is that is tears at the fabric of society.

Taking away the freedom of an individual, particularly one convicted of a non-violent crime, serves nobody and is nothing but punitive. However by scarring the life of men with prison records, hurts society in a completely unintended manner by socially alienating a significant percentage of its most important citizens. Certain societies remove the convicted individuals right to vote which unfortunately in some countries is markedly focused on racial minorities, which could reasonably be argued is a modern day equivalent of racial discrimination. The children of men burdened with this social stigma suffer both materially and emotionally, making sure the damage done is carried for at least another generation. These details are obviously contrary to the development of what would reasonably be considered a ‘healthy’ society. The marginalization of 2% of the population in the US as a consequence of prison ranks as the highest in the developed world, and has been converted into a for profit enterprise. There are many individuals and groups that argue strongly for the institution of jail, and for a multitude of reasons that range from the purely emotional to the admittedly pragmatic explanations of segregating physically violent offenders. However, regardless of the arguments advanced in support of incarceration, it makes no societal sense to continue the punishment by denying the affected men the right to vote. In addition the immense difficulty that convicted individuals have in obtaining employment once released, magnifies the harm inflicted on society, as it forces the convicts to return to illegal ways of generating an income and therefore increasing the likelihood that they will return to jail.

The political pressures and opportunities that politicians exploit, in taking a tough position with regards to the response of society to crime, unnecessarily adds fuel to a fire that ironically rages against the interests of society. Responsibility and a calm mind that argues with fact and reason should be the defining characteristics of the people charged with the management of crime. Emotions are always heightened immediately after the commission of a crime, and the basic human instinct for revenge rears its unfruitful head demanding justice. If the human race is to evolve then it has to move past this more pre-historic element of its constitution and develop solutions to crime that do not involve the further destruction of life, which is exactly what prison has been proven to do.

There is no question that within the equation of a crime exits a victim and a victimizer. What makes the management of crime more complicated is the nature and complexity of the relationship between the two affected parties. The issue of intention and the knowingness of acting criminally are factors that are meant to be part of the calculation of any penalty, and it does make sense that these factors continue to play a significant role in the punishment served. What has, however, been woefully missing from the entire system of ‘corrections’ is the actual process of social rehabilitation, which although the term has an Orwellian resonance, is the most crucial part of the criminal justice system. Men that are sent to jail spend the majority of time locked in a small concrete cell, with very limited access to resources that would assist in whatever social rehabilitation they required. The younger and more impressionable members end up becoming more fully educated in the mechanics of crime and leave prison socially scared.

There are alternative and ultimately more constructive avenues through which the interests of the victim, the victimizer and society could be met which would involve keeping the media out of any of the proceedings. The inflammatory effect that modern day reporting has on the process of justice has quite often turned the process of justice into an injustice. Using the model that is already employed in a very small percentage of prisons, in which the two affected parties meet face to face, would be more productively utilized if used before the case enters the judicial system. This would allow a more human interaction to occur and would minimize the dehumanization of the alleged victimizers, and although there are many legal minds that might consider this completely inappropriate, the problem of crime belongs to society and not just the profession of law.

The issue of material reparation to the victim, and his or her family, provides one platform on which less punitive solutions could be further developed. In addition, the value to society of having convicted individuals verbally share their experience, without the bitterness of prison, would be more likely to make meaningful connections with future potential offenders. The brutality of jail and the fragility of social order are completely contrary and the practice of incarcerating men in concrete cells belongs to history. As with the solutions to many social ills, technology provides some of the most innovative solutions, and the application of digital tagging devices with home confinement should be the first tool out of the punitive bag. This, which would also reduce the financial cost to society and might just, put a stop to the very un-Jesus like conduct of prison profiteering.

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