My wife is a huge fan of TruTV, CNN and reality shows, all of which thrive on negativity. Lately, it seems that there have been a lot of things on involving criminals, prisons, repeat criminals, etc. I usually watch whatever she is watching, and as I have been watching lately, it has really gotten me thinking.
When it comes to violent criminals, I believe that there is no such thing as reform. Not really. When I say violent criminals, I mean anyone who commits murder, robbery, rape, kidnapping, or any other forcible felony.
I have long had an interest in criminal psychology and sociology, and I have given the subject of the criminal justice system, corrections and prisoner reform a lot of thought. I have come to the following conclusions.
From both a psychological and sociological perspective, when someone commits a forcible felony, they are literally giving up their humanity, and with it the right to any form of humane treatment. They become less than human. They show that they are incapable of acting with the restraint that separates humans from animals. They cross a line over which they can never retreat. They become animals.
Crime statistics involving repeat offenders in the violent criminal category support this view. A violent criminal, when released, is very likely to not only commit the same crimes again, but to escalate, and commit even worse crimes.
Take, for example, the current situation in California, where a girl who has been missing for 18 years, Jaycee Dugard, has just been found. She was allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted, over the course of 18 years, by one Philip Garrido, a registered sex offender who even wears an ankle tracking device.
This is someone who is out of prison, supposedly “reformed” and was even being tracked. Clearly that didn’t do Jaycee any good, though she has luckily survived. The same goes for Elizabeth Smart. She was kidnapped by Brian David Mitchell, who also had a prior criminal record, and who has been deemed incapable of being tried due to mental incompetence, a sure sign he should not have been outside of a prison or mental hospital.
There are numerous instances of repeat offenders, of criminals being released and then committing even more violent crimes than before. Many are quite simply incapable of functioning within the boundaries of a society based on rules. They are genuinely incapable of being reformed.
Even if a violent criminal were capable of reform, such reform would be absolutely impossible within our correctional system. I have seen extensive footage and interviews with prisoners and prison staff, and in every instance what I have seen has led me to this conclusion. A prison makes prisoners worse, not better.
Statistically, violent criminals account for roughly 40% of our prison population, costing American tax payers close to $30 BILLION dollars every year! And that is only the cost of incarcerating them. That doesn’t touch the emotional cost to all those affected by those violent criminals, lives forever damaged and altered.
We have become an overly tolerant, utterly indulgent society. We have human rights activists fighting on behalf of criminals who are, by their very acts, no longer human, and who should, once tried and convicted, have no rights whatsoever.
I believe with all my heart that anyone convicted of a forcible felony should be sentenced to death, with the sentence carried out as soon as possible, with no posturing or appeals. If someone commits a crime for which there can never be adequate recompense, they should pay with their life. That is just, and it is the only way to both protect society and discourage further violent crime.
Now, I am not saying that our criminal justice system is perfect. Far from it. But it is what we have, and it is vastly better than having nothing at all. If a criminal is arrested, tried, and convicted by a jury of their peers, then due process has occurred.
Though there may occasionally be mistakes, that is a small price to pay for a legal system that does what it is meant to do, and with advances in technology, mistakes are becoming fewer and further between.
The entire point of laws and punishments, of a judicial system, is to DETER crime, not simply to punish it. If criminals or potential criminals know that the system is full of holes that they can exploit, where is the deterrent? If a roof, a bed, and 3 meals a day is a better life than what they already have, where is the deterrent? If they know that they can, essentially, get away with their crime, where is the deterrent?
The truth is that both our criminal justice system and our very society, in many ways, actually ENCOURAGES crime. Our tolerance encourages crime. Our pandering to human rights activists encourages crime.
Violent criminals not only know this, they thrive on it! For those with no morals, the threat and delivery of punishment is the ONLY deterrent.
It is up to us, as a society, to stop this trend. How many men, women and children have to be kidnapped, raped, or murdered before we man up and stop pandering to criminals?
We don’t need less capital punishment, we need more. Far more. The benefit to society, both emotionally and fiscally, would be enormous. For the religious folk out there, keep in mind that capital punishment has been a part of God’s laws since the very beginning. God metes out justice, but it’s our job to get the criminals to the meeting 🙂
Alas, I’m a realist, and I suspect that our society will continue its downward spiral until it collapses entirely. I doubt it will take much longer.
God help us all if we won’t help ourselves.