Skip to main content

What Is Prison For?

Imprisonment for criminals has three or four possible, sometimes overlapping goals: a) punishment; b) rehabilitation c) prevention (keeping the perpetrators off the streets) and d. revenge - "Justice" is somewhere to be found between these. Society and citizens of all political stripes tend to confuse these various aims, especially when their own loved ones are victims. Some people think prison is just to punish, others just to improve - but one basic belief has, more or less, been accepted - when the criminal is released back into society, they should be accepted back, having done their time and "paid their dues". Not to do so is simply to turn one's back on the system itself - for if ex-cons are not so reabsorbed, but ostracised completely, what else are they to do, but turn back to their old criminal networks? So it is, we tend to hope the rehab works, and the punishment fits the crime.

Murder, of course, is a problem. Because only the ultimate sanction, paying with a life, can seem, to many, fair punishment, anything less is controversial - so the "early" release of murderers is never a popular moment in the justice system's day. However, since the majority of British citizens apparently oppose the death penalty, paradoxically, courts cannot exact that extreme form of revenge - the best they can do is keep the convicted in for "life" - which, when the guilty party is a youth at time of sentencing - is sometimes only ten or twelve years inside. This seems only right, since to assume that a young adult of 15 would benefit society more from being incarcerated for 50-60 years, rather than being retrained and returned to a mature second life, is needlessly cruel, and surely draconian.

Therefore, it comes as sad news to hear that the recently mooted release of a killer, in London, has been greeted with near-total outrage, though the man has spent 12 years in prison, and has gone on to get educational training, express remorse, and become something of a model inmate. The issue is one of deportation - because the convict is nominally Italian, the feeling in some quarters is that he should be sent back to that country (though he speaks no Italian, has no extended family there, and was last there over 21 years ago). This despite the fact that his "human rights" allow him to stay in the UK upon release.

I understand this is a terrible moment. But if society is to survive its more raw urges and instincts - and revenge is one of the baser - it must stick to the law, which, though decidedly imperfect, is more measured and democratically-arrived at than the "justice" of baying mobs and yellow journalists. The time to complain was at the moment of sentencing - not on imminent release. The bottom line seems to be this: when a sentence has been served, it is over. The next step is to let the infamous villain back in - and hope for the best.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

SEXTON SHORTLIST!

Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:


THE BARBAROUS CENTURY, Leah Umansky
HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
GIMME THAT. DON’T SMITE ME, Steve Kronen
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER REDEPLOYMENTS, David McAleavey
AN AMERICAN PURGATORY, Rebecca Gayle Howell
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!