I didn’t have anything this morning. Well, in truth, I did have something- I sat down, looked at my email for a second, logged onto my blog site and POOF! it was gone. Just like that- the “old-man-brain-stalled” syndrome.
So, nu? Now what do I do? Well, this site is all about the Word of God, so I took out my Tanakh (JPS soft cover version, of course) and flipped the pages until I just stopped, which was on Jeremiah 46, 13-28.
This is where Jeremiah tells Egypt that Babylon will conquer her, but eventually Egypt will be inhabited again, and that God will bring His people, Israel, back to their land and give them peace, even though He will have to chastise them in measure.
That’s what we need to do to our children, ourselves, the people who work for us and to the world- chastise in measure. Our criminal justice system is not like what God said. And yes- I am talking about eye for eye and tooth for tooth; however, that statement wasn’t meant to be taken literally, but to instruct us to mete out justice in proportion to the crime. We don’t do that here in America.
How many people are starving in this country, one of the richest and most plentiful in the world, while criminals live in relative comfort and are fed a nutritious, well-balanced meal three times a day? Maybe they don’t get the best cuts of meat, or the freshest vegetables, but they get them. How many millions in this country don’t? According to Google, about 42 Million Americans struggle with hunger.
According to a web site called “Project Censored”:
A report released by The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit criminal justice advocacy group, reveals that the number of prisoners serving life sentences in the US state and federal prisons reached a new record of close to 160,000 in 2012. Of these, 49,000 are serving life without possibility of parole, an increase of 22.2 percent since 2008.
Am I saying kill anyone who is given a life sentence? No, well, maybe….I don’t know. Look, I have questions and I have ideas, but I don’t have answers. I wish I did.
Yeshua told Kefa (that’s Jesus and Peter, respectively) that if someone asks for forgiveness you should forgive him (essentially) every time he asks. The assumption is, of course, that the person asking for forgiveness really means it. Our criminal justice system seems to have gone beyond considering if anyone really means it or not and just goes right to forgiveness. When I say they go right to forgiveness, what I mean is that the death sentence is not something we see anymore, except in a few states.
The bible tells us that a murderer must be put to death, as well as a blasphemer. Also, people practicing adultery deserve the death penalty (we would lose half of the government and nearly every Hollywood star from the last century if we did that!) So maybe doing exactly what the bible says with regard to adultery won’t really work out well for us, but it might reduce the number of adulterers.
And that is what God’s justice system is about- it isn’t concerned about being considerate of the ones who have rejected society, which is what criminals do, but to be more concerned about keeping others from doing the same. I believe (as did John Locke, 1632-1704) the rules that govern society are designed to protect us from each other and secure our rights; furthermore, I believe that when someone consciously ignores those rules and chooses to live outside of them they are, by definition of their actions, making a statement that they reject the rules of society and, thereby, they waive their right to the protection those rules provide.
Their social status, race, religion, upbringing, and any other external factor is not a consideration- we all have free will and no matter how we were raised or what economic status we hold, we choose to do what we do. There are way too many examples of people raising themselves up from the depths of society to become meaningful contributors to that society to automatically accept the argument from those who claim they are the real victims: victims of their social status.
We all want to have a peaceful existence, and we all want to live our lives. The “bad” people want to live their lives, too, only they want you to provide it for them instead of working for it. They choose to take instead of earn.
I understand and agree that socio-economic conditions are factors in our lives, and can influence us. Some people are taught that taking something that doesn’t belong to them is stealing, whereas others are taught that “finders keepers: losers weepers” is a valid and fair rule. For these people, if they see a wallet on someone’s chair (that probably fell out of his back pocket) they will take it and use the money and cards inside it, with no thought at all that they are stealing. They found it so now it’s theirs.
That’s why lie detectors don’t work- they only indicate the physiological responses of people to questions based on the person’s morality: if I steal and murder but don’t think there is anything wrong with that, I won’t register on a polygraph.
We need to upgrade our criminal justice system to meet what God said it should be: fair not to the criminal but fair to the victim and fair to society. Criminals need to know that jail isn’t their only option- death is a definite option, too. I know there will be miscarriages of justice- that’s normal. It stinks, especially for the one who is suffering from being found guilty and isn’t, but there is no perfect answer.
I don’t like crime, and I don’t like the idea that people who violate my privacy, steal my possessions and maybe do harm to me or any of my loved ones will get to sit in a room, have a library, a gym, and be fed for the rest of their life. If they are caught and sentenced.
On the other hand, I don’t think jail is a holiday- there are beatings, rape, social unrest, over-crowding (the death penalty will help resolve that) and racial strife in most every jail (except the ones the rich people get to go to) so it is not all fun and games.
What I am trying to say is that we need to chastise in measure, and that the bible is a good place to find that measuring stick. Restitution must be made for theft, so let the person who steals work in the jail and that money goes to the one he or she stole from. That’s both helping the criminal learn a trade to use on the outside, and make restitution. Upon release, the government has jobs for almost any trade so that is where these people should be placed- let’s have criminals working in government that (finally) admit to being criminals.
(I had to throw that one in there)
Seriously, I think there is a reasonably justifiable argument that social factors contribute to criminal activities, and that there is a fine line between giving someone a hand up and a hand out. The Welfare System has gone way beyond helping people- it has hampered them, it has enabled them and subsequently, today we have families who for two or three generations have been stymied and controlled by the welfare system and an economy that makes getting a handout more profitable than earning a living. And it really isn’t fair to just cut them off without helping them learn how to be self-reliant.
The monies that we save not providing everything to “lifers” could be used to create job training for welfare families. The monies we save not building more jails could be used to feed the hungry. And the message we send to the people who think they are allowed to ignore the rules will be that they will suffer for their crime in proportion to what they do- if they steal they will be made to repay, if they do physical harm (from rape to murder) or if they commit any capital crime, they will die. It’s that simple.
No matter what we do God will punish the wicked- that is, ultimately, His job and He tells us that, often. He will repay, He will bring them to justice, and no matter what we may do here on Earth, when these people, the ones that feel they can do whatever they want without regard to anyone else’s rights or property, face God then they will be chastised in measure.
I am saying we should help more of them get to that point.