Criminal Justice – a Supreme Oximoron

Supreme Court rejects truth

In a stunniing decision, the Supreme Court has decided that it is more important to preserve the “judicial system” than to allow messy things like truth to spoil the system.  Prosecutors everywhere rejoiced that their win-loss records would be maintained, and that the skill with which they threw the book at the crooks would not be called into serious critical review. The respondent in the case even offered to cover the cost of the testing himself.

Sadly, this case is one of a large and growing number of developments that highlight flaws in our system of jurisprudence, which are becoming more apparent and troubling.  Practically every part of the system is laden with wrong-headed, illogical, counterproductive and wasteful ways of dealing with bad behavior.

Let’s think about this logically.  Suppose we could hit the reset button, and redesign the system from scratch.  What would we do?

First, I would suggest that the overall objective should be to encourage and reward the kinds of behavior that society finds constructive.  Very few of our existing laws are designed to encourage  good behavior.  Instead, our laws focus on punishing bad behavior.  Laws that punish are necessary, of course, but an effort to reward beneficence would at the very least be a step in the right direction.

Next, we should ask how we should reward good behavior.  Should we provide cash rewards for certain accomplishments?  Should the rewards always be financial, or could we reward altruism in other ways?  Special license tags or vehicle emblems, the right to use a certain kind of logo on stationery, the right to name a street, alley, sidewalk or even just a brick in the walk – all of these and more should be considered.  I’m sure we could come up with much better ideas if we started talking about it, but part of our problem is that nobody’s talking about it.

Next we should ask what our objectives should be once someone is convicted of a crime.  Do we merely want to punish the offender?  Do we want retribution?  Do we want punishment?  Our present system merely warehouses people, removing them and their antisocial behavior from society.  What a monumentally wasteful, expensive, counterproductive and stupid system!  Shouldn’t we be looking first to make reparations to the victims of crime?  Shoudn’t the convict be required to be directly involved in making those reparations?  Shouldn’t we at least consider behavior modification training?  (Think of boot camp.  Many, many boys came out on the other end of that with a new appreciation for discipline, hard work, honor, loyalty and camaraderie.   They went in as boys, in short, and came out as men.  Such a system of re-training and rehabilitating convicts would allow the drill instructors and commanders broad discretion in granting graduation or a move to a less controlled environment.

We should also treat minor and first-time offenses differently, and never house them with violent, manipulative or recidivist and recalcitrant offenders.  At the same time, we should consider a system of dealing with the latter types in increasingly inhospitable ways.  A convict should never feel that he/she has nothing to lose, and should never be without something toward which to strive.  Good behavior should be rewarded with more and increasing privilege.  Bad behavior should produce the opposite effect.

With time, such a system would make it obvious that we have way too many laws on the books, way too many cops, way too many lawyers, courthouses, jails, prisons, judges, and even government bureaucrats, officials, congressional staffers, and well, you get the idea.

In order for any of these things to happen, we must as a society realize some things we either do not realize now, or that we push to the sidelines, incorrectly believing that we are not involved.  We must acknowledge first of all, that a convict is still a person, and that as such, must be given a reasonable chance for redemption.  We all, whether incarcerated or free, have certain rights given to us by the Constitution, which says that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of “hapiness”.  When one is convicted of a serious enough crime, the right of liberty is modified or forfeitted.  Pursuit of happiness, I believe, should not be forfeitted until all reasonable opportunities have been given to the convict and have all been squandered .  I might add that the framers said not that they, or the newly formed union, or the government of the United States of America, or the Constitution, or any thing else was the source of those rights.  Those rights, they said, were given them by their Creator.  Some rights are not given by the governmet, but by God alone.

Truth matters.  Do we care?

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3 thoughts on “Criminal Justice – a Supreme Oximoron

  1. Rene Nova

    quisiera saber como obtener videos del programa de boot camp estuve en el boot camp en las prision de nevada y ahora estoy en mexico y quisiera compartirlo gracias a ese programa he vuelto a ser un hombre util para mi mismo y para la sociedad espero me ayuden.

  2. The Google translation service says the comment from Rene Nova says this:

    “I want to know how to get videos boot camp program was at the prison boot camp in Nevada and now I’m in mexico and I want to share due to this program have returned to being a useful man for myself and for society hope will help me.”

    Any bilinguals out there who can help us communicate?

  3. Pablo Huertas

    Translation with improved punctuantion for better clarity

    “I’d like to know how to get videos from the boot camp program. I participated of it while I was in prison in Nevada and now that I’m in Mexico I want to share it with others. Thanks to this program I have become a useful man for myself and for society. I hope you all help me”

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