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Do you think some people are born criminals?

January 26, 2012
Justice… can’t she see what’s happening ?

I would like to think that people have what I’ll call “limited free-choice/free-will”; no-one really has absolute “free-choice/free-will” because that would put no limits on them at all.  Everyone’s choices are limited by the degrees of freedom in their lives.  Some of these are physical some are cognitive some are societal etc.  What I mean is for instance we are not free to walk thru walls or go back into the past or to see our futures or freely will that we have a million dollar trust fund (I should think bigger).  So if there is such a thing as free-choice/will it’s limited.  With that in mind I would posit that except in the case of the criminal sociopath most people aren’t “born” criminals per se but instead, due to many other factors out of their control they have a much higher probability of committing a crime or becoming an habitual criminal. Which one of us if we had somehow happened to be born poor; to a single drug addicted parent with no job, in a crime ridden inner city with underfunded schools, no mentors, no sports programs, no recreation areas, no jobs, and most if not all of our friends in the same situation; either failing or dropping out of school, becoming gang members or being arrested wouldn’t choose instead to be born into a wealthy family and community with all the privileges and opportunities that would offer.  Or at least choose that we had both parents and that we were loved and our home was nice and our school was safe and ….  But that not being the case; we would make the seemingly “best” choices that we could from the limited options our situation presented us.  For instance we might choose to sell drugs rather than get a Mc-Job somewhere because it’s way better money and easier to find or we might join a gang because we want to belong and it’s safer than not belonging and all of our friends are there.  Anyway the point is most of us make what we think are the “best” choices we can from the ones we have available.  Personally before spending billions and billions on jails and prisons I would make sure that all schools were well-funded and paid for thru the first four years of college or technical school.  I would invest in national and local programs designed to strengthen communities and support families along with ensuring that adolescents could find employment, perhaps thru a youth jobs-corps. Next I would decriminalize drug use and eliminate mandatory sentences while simultaneously funding treatment programs for chemical dependency.  All the evidence shows neither criminal penalties for drug use nor mandatory minimum sentencing works; instead of reducing crime the supposed War on Drugs; really just a wicked fear based slogan used by venal politicians to get votes from the uninformed, instead of making us safer is instead destroying millions of families, leaving them and us to pick up the pieces.  Doing just these two things would immediately reduce demand for illegal drugs, lower drug related crimes and violence relieve the congestion in the courts and drastically decrease prison overcrowding.  Saving us Billions of Dollars almost overnight.  Then after having done that I would turn my attention to policies dealing with the aftermath of incarceration.  First I would put in place real post incarceration support programs.  Not the ineffectual just so we can look good ones we have now, but genuine long-term programs based on strategies that we know will work from previous experience.  If we don’t want criminals to habituate then let’s do something about it.  Following that I would re-enfranchise those who’ve paid their “debt” to society; it’s only fair if you think about it.  If people fail then well I guess we have to lock them up, but I’m certain it would be hundreds of thousands less than the 2.3 million in prisons now.  We have just five percent of the world’s population but the highest number of people in prison.  More than China which has four times our number in population.  I guess no one’s as tough on crime as we are.  But why do we have more criminals; what’s wrong with this country?  How can the “greatest” nation on earth produce more criminals than China, India, Russia and the list goes on…?  It would cost less, devastate fewer lives, and leave more monies to do productive things like building roads and hospitals and colleges and ball parks and swimming pools… instead of continuing to throw it down a rat hole just so some maroon can say they’re “tough on crime”.  Yep that’s what I’d do because if Punishment worked we’d already have the lowest crime rate in the world… get it?  Highest incarceration rate in the world – but not the lowest crime rate… what’s wrong with this picture?

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