I do not want anyone to think that I am forgetting the
victims and their families. It must be remembered that
most prisoners will be released eventually. We do not
want them coming out worse than they were when they went in. In
order to eliminate future victimization of society by these people we
have to rehabilitate the prisoners. We must separate the hard
core, dangerous predators from those who can be rehabilitated.
At the present time many prisoners who are no threat to others are put in with those who are predators for minor and in some cases fabricated infractions of the rules. Many prisoners are in maximum security that should not be there. The criminals become victims of the injustice system.
We also have many people in prison who are innocent. This means that the real perpetrator is still out there and probably still committing crimes.
When I complain about the way prisoners are treated I am not minimizing the pain that the victims and their families feel. I have been robbed twice. Another time a guy tried to rob me and I gave him a hard luck story and he gave me $5.00. The first time and the attempted robbery were at gunpoint and the other time was by 2 guys that were much bigger than I was. I really do not have any ill feelings about them. In the cases where the robbers got my money they were junkies. Yes, they did deserve to be caught and sent to prison but they also needed treatment and to be taught a skill so that when they come out of prison they will become productive members of society.
When it comes to murder, killing the killer will not bring the victim back. In the case of a serial killer their execution is what they want. It is the final publicity and it says that they were a success at what they did. They will always be remembered but if they get life in prison the public will soon forget.
There are also a lot of innocent people on death row. Do you want an innocent man to die for the murder of your loved one? I know I would not want to see a person die and find out afterwards that the real killer was caught and confessed for the murder. Now you have to go through the trial again. Chances are slim that anything will be said about the real killer being caught. If they have him on another murder they will not want to muddy the waters and be open to lawsuits and criminal prosecution for railroading the person killed by the state for a crime he did not commit. If the person who confesses is not being charged with another crime then he will probably be told to go home and shut up.
I realize that is impossible in many cases to forgive and forget. I am not asking that. I am just saying that the punishment should fit the crime. In many capital punishment cases the person who committed the crime was young and stupid. They have 10 to 25 years to think about what they did. By the time that they are executed they may be totally different than they were when they committed the crime. The may be remorseful for the crime they had committed and they may no longer be evil. There are also cases where they were driven to do what they did for fear of their own safety.
Yes many never feel remorse and will always be evil. These men deserve to be put away and never released. These men will always be a menace to society. (When I say men I do not mean to say that some women do to fit in the same category but there are few.)
The loss of freedom is in most cases punishment enough. The worse the crime the longer the criminal loses his freedom. Again we have to prepare the prisoner for life outside the walls, not only for their benefit but also for our benefit. Wouldn't it be better to pay to rehabilitate than to not only have to pay for a return visit and for new the victims losses.
If you were a victim or a family member of a victim and want to be heard, e-mail me at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2003 Lee W. Gaylord
Links to sites for victims and their families:
The Book to Be