Friday, February 29, 2008

Some things never change

I love Can I share with you for a moment reader? Reading Les Miserables (and currently enjoying it, mind you) I have to laugh as I read an article on MSNBC about the balooning costs of incarcerating inmates in the US. The final paragraph states “These sad facts reflect a very distorted set of national priorities...Perhaps, if we adequately invested in our children and in education, kids who now grow up to be criminals could become productive workers and taxpayers.”
Of course, the first quarter of Les Miserables focuses on this very topic. Not so much harsh punishment (although that is most certainly addressed), but does the punishment fit the crime? And if a crime of "necessity" is commited, who is at fault? The criminal, or the society who created the criminal? Hugo's endearing character Bishop Bienvenu eloquently puts it this way, "Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness."
The article also spoke of having better ways of "punishing" minor parol violations, instead of re-incarcerating the culprit, "they are making greater use of community supervision for low-risk offenders and employing sanctions other than reimprisonment". Luckily, Utah wasn't on the list of big spenders on prison inmates. Yay Utah!

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