Crime and (not) punishment

I keep hearing from people in my circles (lay-people, pastors, mentors, bosses, friends, etc) that our justice system doesn’t work.

More to the point, they don’t like that we’ve started rehabilitating criminals instead of punishing them.

I’ve heard time and time again that a massive surge in crime has accompanied our new, soft, bleeding-heart liberal justice system.

You could maybe make that case in the 80s. You’d have to ignore that correlation does not equal causation, but you could make that case. Crime was rising rapidly. Things looked bleak.

But crime has fallen precipitously. It’s at its lowest rates in, what, 50 years? We haven’t changed the justice system. We’re still trying to rehabilitate offenders. We’re still not bringing down the wrath of God on guilty heads.

So what now? Are you going to be honest and just admit that your view must have been wrong (I mean, logic and everything)? Or is it the justice system’s doing when crime goes up, but not when it goes down?

Look at it from another direction. Perhaps rehabilitation’s fruits are finally being reaped. Maybe all the hard work of trying to help people be better people paid off after a while.

It’s just as plausible, right?

One thought on “Crime and (not) punishment

  1. Neo-con politicians like attacking crime, because it’s easy; crime is an easy target, no-one is going to defend crime, per se, and so they can appear to be doing something, whilst doing nothing; if the crime rates continue dropping, they can pick the year they took power and the present, compare the two, and take credit for the drop.

    That said, one always must take crime stats with a grain of salt, since of course, they are based on reported crimes, and it can be difficult to estimate the number of crimes that happen which go unreported.

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