Posts Tagged ‘society’

Millenial Millions?

Mon ,21/01/2019

couple hard zingers in there for all generations – including mine (X) – ouch!


Sentenced to Life…..

Thu ,26/08/2010

I caught this article in the latest issue of The Utne Reader – not online yet – it’s originally from Notre Dame magazine (yes, the school).

I was kind of taken by surprise while reading this. Without stepping into the ‘big picture’ issues around a potential motive he may have (prison reform – a subject I’m not very familiar with by any means) – this article really made me stop and think about several things, namely:

a) The comparison between ‘young man decisions made in ignorance’ vs. ‘old man never able to escape them’. This of course brings up the tired cliche of ‘youth being wasted on the young’ – but certainly with more than a hint of irony. I’m not sure the lesson to be learned here is much more than ‘impulsive decisions can sometimes cost you dearly, sometimes forever’. We don’t know the circumstances of what this guy did, but it was obviously permanent (he hints it was murder) and may not have even been done with any sort of planning, or ‘evil’ – although certainly the outcome ended up that way. No excuses – and even the most ignorant person in this country knows what happens when you kill someone, right?

b) This type of essay makes me think – what is the cost? What is the cost to our society (not thinking of $$, but that’s a factor too of course) in terms of lost potential (both by what he and others might have contributed had things gone differently, and by what else society itself may have gained as a result)? What does it say about us? Are we really willing to treat others’ lives like a permanent UFC reality show behind bars for decades if not their entire lives? And how does that square with what they did, proportionality and other ‘rules’ such as ‘eye for an eye’, etc.? All tough questions with no easy answers.

c) One of the most interesting points made was that of prison = a society of captive children. everything (save defecation and eating) is done for them and they aren’t allowed to do almost anything for themselves even if they want to. Does this imply they are ‘frozen’ in an immature state (also may depend on the age at which they enter and other background factors, to be sure) – and how do we change that? DO we change that?

c) Beyond running the prison laundry, making license plates and the like, one thing WA has done of late is allow prisoners to tend gardens and grow food. I don’t believe the food grown leaves the prison (unlike the license plates and other products they may manufacture) but rather they eat it, too. Why wasn’t this done decades ago? It’s not like tending gardens is a 21st century innovation? even if a person is going to be in prison for life (and even if deservedly so) – why not let them tend a garden? And certainly for those slated to eventually rejoin society – it might actually help rehabilitate them? If nothing else, it might give them a break/respite from the otherwise nearly constant violence he describes? Yes, I get it – prison is not ‘vacation’ and not intended to be easy – but there’s a difference between imprisonment and ‘perma-riot’, no?

d) The point made about society’s perception of the prisoner being made when the person entered prison (and doesn’t really change), while the person inside – especially one growing old inside for literally decades – is increasingly reminded of those early, permanent mistakes. And as he notes, the aging, frail body conveying those thoughts serves as a second, painful reminder of same.

e) It is human nature for many to want a black and white solution – to want to make an easy (or even hard) decision and then be DONE with it, period. Locking up a malefactor and (effetively) throwing away the key may be one way – the guy did his crime, regardless of his background/upbringing, environmental factors, etc. – and now he pays with his life (as he made someone else pay, whether that person was an innocent victim or someone who was seconds from doing the same to him). No matter the circumstances – is that all there is to it? Again, not arguing excuses or softening the blow of permanence – just wondering if this is the only answer…..

As noted when I sent this article around via email prior to this post – one thing is certain. I am very, very thankful I haven’t made the mistakes this guy did – and that I have the life I have, and not his.