Crime & Criminals – Your views?

People are polarized in their attitudes about crime and criminals.  Most of these beliefs are ingrained within ourselves. and we hold firm to them with a sense of righteous conviction. We are opening this page to your discussion, because we believe exchanging viewpoints is the only way individuals can examine the validity of the conclusions they reach. We start with two different perspectives expressed elsewhere which we feel well-represent the two opposite views, and you can follow with any additions as you feel. Please keep it clean and respectful of others and their opinions. We don’t want to have to exercise censorship:

jomiku’s comments, August 13, 2010

I worked in the criminal justice system in Detroit. Spend any time with the system and you know that history is stacked against success. While the press does a good job of portraying the heartless criminals, white people who’ve never been in those homes, in the courts have no idea how bad life is and how hard it is for kids, especially young men, to escape it. You want to believe that fixing poverty would do the job, but you know that is unlikely. You also learn immediately that harder sentencing doesn’t do squat to change the patterns of behavior of young men. They simply can’t think that far into the future. If they could, if they could see the course of their lives and how they can make a different future, they’d stay in school and get educated. There is a steady stream of kids reaching their teens who won’t listen to their elders’ warnings, even when they come from former bangers of the worst kind.

The imposition of punitive sentencing laws always seemed to me to manifest two somewhat contradictory impulses: to punish out of hatred and to direct out of love. There is a strong thread of hatred in the urge to punish, especially when race is involved, and yet many proponents of mandatory harsh sentencing see this as a club to nudge people toward change. They want a better world and see this as a way to bring that about. I’ve long viewed criminal justice as a strong argument against the facile arguments about the efficacy of nudging people toward desirable conduct.

You spend some time in the Detroit courts and you’ll know what I mean. We understood we were pushing the rock uphill and that it was only going to roll back down. I knew it wasn’t for me when I thought about another myth, that of Prometheus bound to a rock so every day an eagle would eat his liver only to have it grow back to be eaten again.

I remember when Reagan fired the air controllers who struck illegally. They complained about the stress of their job. No, I’d say, try being a Detroit cop when there’s a car in the alley with guys in it and you have to walk up to it knowing you could end up paralyzed or dead and your little boy will never know his dad. Try doing that every single day. Then try standing there as you hear yet another kid who shot another because he was disrespected or another guy who stabbed his girlfriend 17 times with a screwdriver and then ran her head over with his car or the guy who just made bail that you know is never going to trial because the drug barons up the chain will kill him and you want to tell him to run but you know it doesn’t matter because he’s dead already and you hope it won’t be too painful.

Jbay’s comments, August 13, 2010:

It’s not that young men can’t see into the future. It’s that if you put a dog on a shock pad and shock him to try and teach him he becomes more and more depressed and aggressive until he stops responding entirely. That is of course until the hand shocking is close enough to attack. I think our law enforcement needs to read a little Skinner, “operant conditioning” along w. behavior and learning psychology.

Speaking from experience, I grew constantly being harassed because I’m a red head. When I was young this made me confused and angry. Because it was illogical abuse I turned inward. I stopped being able to tell the criticism meant to help from the criticism meant to harm. There was one other kid that had the same childhood at the school that I did. We looked the same, thought the same and were treated the same by teachers and peers. The only difference was that my father and mother where around to teach me while he was raised by a single mother working two jobs.

I went on to study philosophy, psychology and business, seek out mentors and try to understand why people are the way they are. Eventually I became less angry and I’ve now done pretty well for myself. The last time I heard anything about him he had spent the better part of the last 5 years in jail and brutally beat his sister w. a gun.

When everything around you seems unjust and someone comes along to tell you to obey the injustice it is like someone telling you to stop crying over being whipped or you’ll be whipped with two whips instead of one whip. There is no difference in your mind between bad and more bad and all you’re thinking about is how to fight the injustice before you lose yourself.

As long as laws exist for profit, monetary or political, there will always be injustice. As long as the motives of punishment are not based on helping people the cycle of hate will continue and violence will follow close behind. The difference between me and the other kid is that I found and learned: compassion, love, kindness and understanding to temper my anger. I had people to pick me up and dust me off. When I reached the tips of despair and rage there was always a stranger around to stand up for me or pat me on the back with sympathy. His experience was that if he didn’t fight for himself he would be left in the cold and die because no one ever came to his aid. He learned that if he didn’t push back then he’d be abused mentally in addition to physically. My experience was that if I held fast and controlled my anger then a hand would appear to lift me.

This has nothing to do with not seeing into the future. Trust me; they see quiet clearly into the future. It has everything to do with experience, adding and subtracting, from how we understand what the future will bring. When your past and present has been brutality how can you see anything in the future but more brutality?

  1. Tom Starks says:

    In the Daily Chronicle on April 15, There was an article that stated Senate OK’s rules revoking early prison release, stating there was a vote by the Senate wanting prison officials to spell out which parole violations require sending an inmate back to prison after being granted early release. Senators voted 55-0 Thursday to demand guidelines for returning rule-breakers to lockup.They also voted 53-0 to require the Corrections Department to send the governor monthly reports of early releases and an annual report to lawmakers. Republican Sen.Kirk Dillard says that would prevent governors from claiming they didn’t know about early releases.That’s what Gov.Pat Quinn said in December 2009 when The Associated Press reported the early release of more than 1’700 inmates.The legislation is part of a reform package Dillard said Quinn’s office is helping him put together. That is what it said in my paper did you see of this or hear of this? Thank you for reading all.


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