Monday, April 25, 2011

Here Comes My Frustration

We do this funny thing in America where instead of locking up our most dangerous criminals as punishment for committing heinous crimes, we kill them, thus helping them circumvent the misery of a life in a maximum security prison. I say it's a funny thing for lack of a better word, and because we are one of very few developed countries around the world that uses capital punishment. It is all but abolished across Europe, Canada, Australia, most of South America... hell, even Mexico doesn't use capital punishment! In fact, depending on your definition of what a developed nation is, I'd go so far as to say we are one of three developed countries to use capital punishment, the other two being Japan and China.

But why do we bother executing these criminals? Most of them aren't afraid to die, they've lead a life surrounded by death and murder, what difference does living make to them? I'm sure they'd much rather die than suffer the rest of their lives in a cell waiting for the sweet release of death.

They're not a danger to society either. They're locked safely away in maximum security prisons where there are guards armed with sniper rifles and all sorts of gadgets to make sure the prisoners know that escaping will be an extremely unpleasant process, one that will most likely end up in severe pain and/or death.

And life in a maximum-security prison isn't exactly the good life. The food sucks, the living conditions are shitty, you have no privacy, and you have to deal with prison yard fights and getting raped. Oh, for all you foreigners, maximum security has nothing to do with the security of the prisoners themselves (though I'm sure theoretically it's supposed to), just the security of the rest of America. No chance of escaping, and if the prisoner does manage to somehow make it outside the first of many obstacles, they'll probably be shot.

There's a lot of built up frustration and anger here for me.  Not towards Dane, but towards the fucked up judicial system.  Once they have their hooks in you, you never make it out completely.  I don't get it.  I don't get how someone who committed white collar crimes can be incarcerated for as long as murderers, and even LONGER.  I just don't understand one fucking piece of that.  Yeah, Dane fucked up.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  He took money.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars... he extorted more money and monetary items from people than I can ever wrap my head around.

That's not my point.  My point is the fact that in the United States today, there is no standard when it comes to punishment and sentencing. This area of the criminal justice system is one that is in constant flux.  Sentencing practices and goals are always under scrutiny. From "getting tough on crime" to more rehabilitative approaches, the views and goals of sentencing are ever-changing.  Of course it seems obvious that similar offenders who commit similar crimes should be treated similarly. However, that is rare and hard to come by.  Depending on the jurors, prosecutor and the judge, the case is coldly calculated.

Today there are many things the criminal justice system aims to do by imposing punishments and sentences. Goals of punishment have moved from satisfying the victim, as in early days, to more of a broad scale. There are theories on how punishment and sentencing may serve to reduce crime as a whole. General and specific deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution, and reformation are just some of these goals.  I respect all of that, but I still think it's fucked up.  I just think it's absolutely ridiculous that a person can be punished for misdemeanors (and felonies) the same way a murderer or rapist is punished, and reading news articles and stories just reiterates where I stand on this matter.  Money can be replaced.  Easily.  A life cannot!

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