A New View of Crime and Punishment

News & SocietyPolitics

  • Author June Stepansky
  • Published June 16, 2019
  • Word count 422

Whether we live in poor areas or more affluent environments, we are all affected by the crime around us and the fear it engenders in all of us.

Long ago people viewed crime in a more simplistic way. There were good people and bad people and the bad people needed to be punished and crime would then disappear. That has not happened. When criminals are punished they do not ordinarily stop being criminals.

New information has taught us about the relationship of cause and effect. There is still a dialogue going on about nurture versus nature, but no authority will deny that poverty, environment or bad parenting play a large role in producing individuals who have lost any hope that they can survive as productive citizens of our society. It is very easy for young people to get caught up in the current drug culture and make serious mistakes that can have lasting consequences in their lives. For various reasons, minorities are at particular risk in our culture. These early mistakes must not be allowed to ruin our young people's entire lives. Our laws must begin to reflect the reality of the lives that young people are exposed to and treat these young offenders with understanding and compassion.

According to current statistics, it costs an average of $33,000 a year to keep one prisoner in jail. How much better it would be to spend that money on preventative measures like better counseling, better recreational facilities, better parenting classes and better job training programs for young people who are at risk.

For those people who are already in prison and will one day be paroled, wouldn't it be wiser to give them counseling and job training and get them ready to live productively instead of warehousing and punishing them and then throwing them back on the streets to become a danger to us again?

We must change our own view of these vulnerable people in our society. They are people who, because of the circumstances of their lives, are not able to make a living, who cannot control their emotions or who feel a sense of hopelessness. Instead of taking revenge, we must begin to find the cure for this disease and treat this like any other chronic illness with tolerance and understanding and wise life-changing programs.

By doing these things, we will perhaps begin to make some inroads on the problems of crime, drug addiction, family violence and insure a future of healthier families, safer communities and ultimately more hope for us all.

June Stepansky is a published writer and poet who writes about happiness, self-improvement and social and political issues--adifferentvoice@live.com

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