It looks like the government is going to close a bunch of smaller, obsolete prisons and build a super-prison. This is going to take a lot of money and a lot of time.
In the Old Testament, when God established a penal system, there was no incarceration.
In a God-ordained penal system, property crimes were punished with either two-fold or four-fold restitution, far more beneficial to the victim and reducing re-offending. Thieves weren’t locked behind bars where they could learn worse criminal attitudes and techniques from other criminals with more “expertise.”
A super prison is horrible for those who commit property crimes, often turning them into worse criminals. If we dealt with property crime strictly, from a person’s very first offence, and broke the cycle early with significant consequences, we’d need fewer prisons, not more. In the Bible, no one asked if it was a first offence and said they’d let you off lightly this time since you’d never done it before. Depending on the crime, it was either two-fold or four-fold restitution for first-time offenders, too.
God’s penal system didn’t put fathers in prison for property crimes, leaving a mother to try to find some way to keep the kids from evil influences, influences that so often push the kids into crime, too.
Of course, there are serious crimes for which two-fold or four-fold restitution can’t be made, and for those crimes, God established retribution. If you put out someone’s eye, your eye would be put out. Tough? Yes, but it’s pretty tough for the victim whose eye was put out, too, isn’t it? And harsh punishment IS a deterrent. You’d only have to see one person lose his eye judicially before you would determine not to go around hitting people in the face. No one wants to see that kind of retributive justice — but is what we’re doing better?
Isn’t the need to build a super prison an admission of
a failed justice system?
Beyond retribution, there are extreme cases, cases where even retribution is impossible, like the man convicted in Lancaster in November. Surely THAT kind of offender needs to be behind bars, right?
When a man rapes a four-year-old, we should not spend money for a prison to house him. We should not have to pay to protect him from other inmates.
He should not need his sentence reviewed by “experts” five years from now, and we should not have to pay “experts” to determine if such a man should be free in a few years. We should not pay to give him a new identity when he is turned loose, so the public doesn’t kill him. We should not pay benefits to house and feed him (people are often on the dole after prison because they are unable or unwilling to gain and hold a job).
We should not have to pay for police to “monitor” him once he is out. We should not have to hope they catch him before the act, if he decides to “re-offend” (destroy another child’s life).
His victim and her family should not face the rest of her life wondering when he will be free, wondering if she might someday come face to face with him in a shop or on the street, or if she might hear in the news that he’s attacked another child.
We torture victims by our cowardice
in failing to carry justice through fully.
We’re too sophisticated for the death penalty in this country, so we lock people away like animals for a few years, instead, and then let them out — and spend millions “monitoring” them. We say instead that we believe in rehabilitation rather than punishment.
You don’t have to monitor someone who is rehabilitated.
No one believes in prison rehabilitation,
or they wouldn’t monitor released offenders.
Did God know what he was talking about when He instituted the death penalty? If Roy Whiting received the death penalty after his first horrible crime, Sarah Payne would not have suffered his perversions, and died. If Thomas Smith was not freed (and then “monitored”) after sexually assaulting a ten-year-old girl, Diane and Holly Fallon would be alive today. If Stuart Leggate was punished for his three previous convictions for child sex offences, nine years later Mark Cummings might be learning to drive.
You can never give back what you take when you sexually assault anyone, child or adult. There’s no restitution, no retribution which suffices. Murder, rape, child molestation, these are the kinds of crimes for which God said there should be capital punishment.
We should never have to hear another police superintendent say, as was said after Leggate’s conviction for his vile torture and killing of eight-year-old Mark:
Fundamentally, we cannot watch these people 24 hours-a-day and I think the circumstances showed that basically it was an opportunity exploited within a very few minutes.
That’s the difficulty – whilst there are sex offenders in the community there will always be that element of risk.
We’ve chosen that “element of risk” for women and children. We don’t have to have it — we’ve chosen it.
We’re wasting a lot of money, building a super prison and claiming to monitor offenders. We pay higher insurance premiums than if we had a real system for dealing with property crime. But that’s just money — the real cost of a failed justice system is in lives:
- Dead and abused children.
- Older people living in fear as virtual prisoners in their own homes.
- Grieving and scarred families.
- Hardened criminals spinning towards destruction.
We could learn from the Bible. Or we can keep on as we are, build a super prison, and call it compassionate.