In case no one else has noticed, the criminal justice system in the USA is broke. Of course, it’s broke on most of the rest of the world too. The reason it is broke, is because it is run by people who cannot imagine things being any other way than what they are. So any solution is just another design for a prison. The current system is all about prisons, deterrence and rehabilitation.
PRISONS DON’T WORK.
The only virtue a prison has is to separate the prison population of criminals from the rest of the population of potential victims. That is a help, but mostly, those prisoners do eventually get out and go right back to their favorite crimes.
DETERRENCE DOESN’T WORK.
Every person who was ever caught committing a crime knew that there would be a price to pay if he got caught and he did it anyway. If anything, a severe punishment only caused him to try to get away with it by being more clever, or more ruthless.
REHAB DOESN’T WORK.
It never has worked. It never can work. There are two types of criminals. One type commits a crime because he feels forced into it (i.e. stealing a loaf of bread to feed a hungry child). The second type commits a crime because it is easier than other alternatives and he sees nothing wrong with it. The first type of guy doesn’t need rehab because he already knows what he did was wrong and given the same circumstances, he would do it again. The second guy doesn’t care about rehab because rehab cannot convince him ever that he was wrong. It can only convince him to SAY he was wrong so he can get released.
WHAT DOES WORK.
I propose replacing the current system of Prisons, deterrence, and rehab with a system of mental Evaluation, Criminal hospitals, Punishment, Restitution, Exile and Death.
Mental Evaluation and Criminal hospitals.
Some people commit crimes because they are too stupid to know the difference between right and wrong. These people need to be screened out from the rest of the population of “normal people” for the safety of the normal people. They also need to be screened from the other criminals for the safety of the mentally incompetent. It would be cruel to punish such people since they cannot benefit from any sort of punishment, treatment or learning. They go to a confinement hospital, where they are cared for by mental health professional, not prison guards. In those hospitals, the staff is there to protect them from each other as well as to protect society from them. This is not any form of rehab or punishment. The only way to be released is to make a medical advancement that permanently changes the psychological impairment and makes that person “normal”.
Catch and release. This is for all those minor crimes. There is no purpose to putting a teenager in prison for graffiti or for stealing a car. But there is some value to punishment for making such a person not want to do it again. That punishment should be immediate (after a suitable due process) and be painful. Pain works. I like the system of caning for most minor offenses. At the conclusion of which, the offender is released to go about his life. No records. Nothing to distinguish him from everyone else other than a healthy respect for the law and a very sincere desire to NOT GET CAUGHT DOING THAT AGAIN.
The goal of the Criminal justice system is to seek restitution for the victims. Those who have been deprived of property have their property restored. A criminal who is in prison is not working to restore anything. He needs to be out earning a living and returning some portion to his victims and to society. This should not be confused with fines, which are just a penalty that profits the government. A rich man pays the penalty and it doesn’t hurt him at all. It becomes just an expected part of life to the point where he doesn’t even have to go to court, he can have his lawyers do it. Corporate CEOs can direct their companies to break laws and the company pays a huge fine but the CEO is untouched. Restitution must be paid by the criminal , from his own money, to the victim. A company cannot be a criminal. Only a real person can.
Some people simply choose to not participate in Western civilization and play by the same rules everyone else plays by. The right course of action for such people is exile. But there are fewer and fewer exile destinations available. In the past, the UK had Australia. France had French Guiana. This as a practical matter would be rarely if ever used since it requires finding some other country willing to take them. I suspect there are some African countries that could be enduced to accept them if they were bribed enough (payed by the criminal).
The final protocol. While I happen to believe that our government is on the whole too corrupt to be allowed to have this power and use it wisely, I am unwilling to watch tens of thousands of innocent people be killed and maimed because we are squeamish about killing a few hundred guilty people. When a criminal intentionally chooses to harm another life or is otherwise just to dangerous to be allowed to live, You have to do the only sane thing. Put him down. How you do it doesn’t matter. We have been putting dogs to sleep for 100 years with effective drugs. The same for surgical anesthesia. I had some once. I can tell you with certainty that someone could have cut my head off with a butter knife and I wouldn’t have felt a thing. This is not about punishment, deterrence, or revenge. It is simply protecting innocent life from the consequences of ever meeting this person again.
So, there’s my system. It’s a LOT cheaper than what we do now. More effective. Less burdensome on society.
The purpose of the courts would be to sort out the perps into the right box. The purpose of the jails would be to hold the perps for sorting and short term storage on the way to disposition. There would be no need for prisons of any kind. No “death rows”. No one living 30-40 years behind bars. No large groups of unemployable people because of their prison records. No hardened criminals who got harder hanging out with even harder criminals. No more prison rape jokes as if a society that permits such things can in any way be called “humane” or “civilized”. No more criminal crime lords who continue to run their empires from behind bars. No more illegal aliens willing to risk “the lash” again prior to being deported again. Certainly no alien parents sending their kids to face the cane. No more rich men willing to hide behind corporations to take the blame and pay the fines. No more government incentives to squeeze the rich/corporations for fines to fund their favorite causes. No more punitive awards in tort cases. If you want to punish someone, you have to do it through the criminal system. If you aren’t a criminal, you can’t be punished.
That’s my idea. I’ll get right on it.