Thursday, November 29, 2007


If we were to judge the US by its penal policies, we would perceive a strange beast: a Christian society that believes in neither forgiveness nor redemption.

This is a quote from the British/Welsh social activist George Monbiot. Oh how US society fits that to a T. Persecutors (sic) get re-elected and get bonuses based on how many people's lives they ruin by tossing them in prison. Throw them all away, (most are poor, black, gay or lesbian, homeless and jobless; frequently in combination of the above, so it is not a great loss), make them suffer, deprive and warehouse them. Teach them nothing (except how to be better criminals), offer no programs. Once an offender, then mark them for life (to protect the children, who of course do not get healthcare but are free from perverts), if you need more space, build some more prisons, small towns love them. Send them out back to society, then restrict the jobs and places they can live, that makes sense, can't have these people too close to anyone. No wonder so many go back inside, they think life is easier there. No wonder crime is still an issue.

Our courts are a joke. The rich get off, the poor get little legal help from well intentioned but over burdened public defenders. Judges are idiots, just look at the fool-ass judge who got canned because he ordered his entire courtroom to jail because no one admitted to a ringing cell phone. This was a man trusted to pass judgment on people, making decisions that would impact many lives daily. He was not fit to run a car wash. Judges can, without impunity, make crazy decisions based on prejudice, fear and political pressure. Just look how many minorities are sentenced, just look how many people have gotten lighter sentences because their victims were gay and thus deserved to be beaten. I call it the Injustice System, populated by persecutors, sharks and martinets.

I happen to know several people currently or formerly in prison. Each one will tell you that they violated a law, got into drugs or, just as likely, could not afford to get the treatment they needed for mental illness. Each one will tell of the horror, humiliation, injustice and deprivation they or others endured. Few will say they learned anything valuable.

And what of this lack of "Christian attitude" towards those who commit a transgression? Well, "Christian attitude" has been perverted by the fundies into a condemning attitude. My local paper offers readers a chance to comment on stories and articles. If it involves a crime, the fundies and Repubs go off about saving the children by chopping hands, genitals, heads and other parts, brutally torturing the offender, throwing them in pits, etc. The Taliban is alive and well in suburban Kansas City.

"Faith based" prisons are proliferating, but at a price. The "religion" is primarily a controlled, fundamental Christian program and has been accused of "creaming" its success statistics, that is making sure the control group is composed of those most likely to succeed. With the world being shaken to its core over "my god is better than your god" I do not think faith is the answer.

Rehabilitation is the answer, a society that will help and welcome back those who have paid the price for their transgressions will go a long way to reducing crime. Making sure only the most violent and incorrigible are locked up for a long time. Making sensible sex offender laws, such as the recent court decision in Georgia that struck down all the laws where sex offenders can live, while allowing murderers, drug dealers and such to live freely, will ensure that they become productive citizens, not homeless derelicts.

The leaders of this country, both right and left, fall all over each other trying to be "religious" or "Christian". They forget the real lesson of Christ, forgiveness and redemption.

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