Thursday, May 28, 2015

Even criminals get better if you actually help them

Still thinking about the topic of government help in society. You might recall my post from yesterday where I show that kids, when helped, will eventually find independence. I believe that the same principle is true for adults. Social programs help adults who have lost their way so that they find their independence again.

Criminals can be helped, too. Criminals are men and women convicted of crimes, crimes they committed because they didn't know a better way. This is not to say that I support or condone criminal behavior, it's simply a fact. Humans have an instinct for cooperation, but that instinct is thwarted when we begin to think that we can't get our needs met by working for it or by saying, "please".

So instead of recognizing criminal behavior as a symptom of an illness, we make a moral judgement and assume that the criminal just wants to be evil. Saying someone is evil is like being too lazy to ask why. Why are people evil in the first place? I think that the judgement of evil has more to do with the concept of original sin than anything else. People make mistakes by errors in judgement, not intention.

Granted, there are a few abused souls out there who are beyond rehabilitation. They are psychotic, or sociopaths who cannot empathize with human suffering. They feel no pain. They are sick, to be sure, but they should be separated from society until they make a choice to accept help. They should not be forced to endure the hell on earth that people who are "tough on crime" have created: the American prison system.

America has one of the highest rates of recidivism in the industrialized world at 52% and is numero uno for incarceration. Seems like we're doing something wrong. Well, in Norway, their recidivism rate is 20% - what a shocker. Why do they have it going so well?

They treat people in prison like people rather than animals. As the report in the link above states, "The Norwegian penal philosophy is that traditional, repressive prisons do not work, and that treating prisoners humanely improves their chances of reintegrating in society." That is the difference.

In Norway, they understand that criminals need help. By helping them to live a normal life again, to socialize again, criminals are better able to ask for help. When people ask for help, it's not forever. it's just to get through a rough patch. Isn't that justice?
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