Monday, July 14, 2008

Pro Forma


The case reflects an attitude that the length of prison terms should depend on whether the patient is “getting better.” This perpetuates the idea that crime is the result of illness, which, if true, would undermine the very idea of punishment. How can the system punish somebody for being ill?

1. There are many ways to take "getting better;" not all of them assume that crime is the result of illness, and Hering provides no evidence that his explanation fits the incredibly vague two-word phrase. This is just silly. And, of course, it discounts the fact that some people who commit crimes are ill.

2. ..."would undermine the very idea of punishment." Oh noes! Someone won't get hurt badly enough! Quick! We must find new and creative ways of hurting other human beings, or else we'll.... what, exactly? Last time I checked, the death penalty had been in use throughout just about all of recorded human history, and guess what? People still commit crimes!

Give me a break. Punitive/Retributive justice, at its core, is ineffective and incredibly unethical. I'm sure Hering arrived at his position honestly on this one; I just think it's a morally reprehensible position. (And no, the fact that millions of people agree with Hering does not make it less morally reprehensible.)

Better to think about Restorative Justice, both for practical and ethical reasons.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.