The Penal Code

I’ve always felt like our justice system is unfair on many levels. It’s one-sided in that it’s almost purely punitive. Instead, I think we need to realize that those who commit crimes, particularly related to drugs, are often in pain. Even rapists and murderers probably commit their crimes because of a painful past. Not all, but probably most. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be punished and that the public at large shouldn’t be protected from criminals. I’m just saying an injection of a little compassion might go far in rehabilitating them. What do you think? Let’s see what Erik has to say first.

Me: Okay, here’s a controversial one. I think the penal code is messed up. In my opinion, it’s too punitive. A lot of people who get arrested and thrown behind bars are in pain; they need help.

Erik: And we don’t provide it for them. All we do is we punish.

Me: We just punish, punish, punish. I think we’d go a long way but helping people and showing compassion. These are often just people with a lot of pain inside, so what can we do, Erik? I think we might just need to look at things a little bit differently.

Erik: Hell, yeah. Wouldn’t it be great if we really didn’t have so many jail cells? We don’t need so many of them, because people are in them for the wrong reasons, first of all—and for stupid ass reasons. And if you get arrested and it’s for a certain kind of a crime or what not, you should immediately be placed in a six-week program.

Me: Yeah!

Erik: We still have to pay for your fucking food anyways if you’re in jail, so why don’t we give you a good place to be and give you love, attention and therapy.

Me: Mm hm.

Erik: And they do a six-week program, and then they’re under like a house arrest—they’re monitored for another six weeks and we see how they interact with life. Then, if they already have gone through that program and they get arrested again, then let’s put your ass in jail if that’s what you need.

Me: Yeah, but there’s also the problem that these people get records that can’t be expunged, and they can’t get jobs because everybody does background checks now. That totally sucks, too.

Erik: Yeah, because it always puts a label on them. I think if you go through the six-week program successfully and it shows that you’ve done rehabilitation work on yourself, but it doesn’t show that you’ve been placed in a jail. There needs to be levels. A person has to have the right to go back to a life.

Me: I know. Exactly.

Erik: If that’s not going to be offered, why the fuck get better? If you’re not going to get what you want to begin with, you have nothing to lose.

Me: Yeah, one person gets arrested for ½ a gram of cocaine when they were 17, they can’t even rent an apartment or find a job for like 15 years. They can’t even be a Wal-Mart greeter, for god’s sake. They’re options are pretty much drug mules or tattoo artists. Not that the latter’s bad, but I doubt they do background checks. It’s ridiculous. They get punished for the rest of their lives for something they did when they were so young! It makes no sense. So, what do you do with the murderers and the serial rapists, though? What so you do with them, Erik? I mean, they’re people in pain, too, but still, they’re a threat to the public.

Erik: They are, but I would still put them in the six-week program. I would put them in a different kind of program—more solitude like away from community and so forth. Then I would take them through different levels of processing. I wouldn’t put them back into society right away. I really think that after the six-week program that they need to go live in a commune somewhere with other people like themselves so that they can reach certain markers in their lives to where they can be reintroduced back into the community. I think they should be privately tagged, not publically tagged, if they’ve gone through this whole process and rehabilitation because if we can see how they honestly tick and if they’re really successful, like they know they’re going to heal, then we give them a chance. We put them back into society and monitor them from a distance. But building that community in the commune, they’ll have the comfort to be honest to say they’re really fucked up in the head and that they really don’t wanna do real life anymore. If that’s the case, we just keep them in the fucking commune, man!

Me: Yeah!

Erik: Make them do something successful; teach the bastards how to knit!

Jamie and I laugh.

Me: They can be a self-sustaining community, of course.

Erik: Yes!

Me: If they need to murder or rape each other, so be it.

Erik: Just don’t let ‘em on a farm; they’ll rape the goats and the sheep.

Me: Erik! You bad boy!

Jamie and I laugh hard.

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prison

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Elisa Medhus

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  • Amy Olson

    There are programs being started but I’m hesitant to think most criminals are going to change much in six weeks. If they have grown up in and around crime, THAT is their reality. I’ve seen programs for inmates that are tiered at about three-month intervals. As they progress, certain privileges are earned. The down-side I’ve seen, is that some inmates are so hardened they see everyone as the “enemy” and do not want to cooperate or participate in any kind of program. The type of program Erik is talking about may work better within Probation. That is their chance to avoid incarceration; the rules aren’t that strict, but I see many who look at Probation as a free pass. If they would just abide by the rules from the court for a year or so, they could be done and put it behind them.

  • Maggie Hunter-Brown

    The whole system is in dire need of heavy reform or downright restructuring..humans built these institutes and dogma for other humans to live in…. treat people like animals, and that’s what they will learn to survive in and reform to.. The Canadians look to the Sweds for system improvements, and I don’t who where the Sweds look?! Are they all looking to reduce their bottom revenue/operation lines at a “slight?!” cost of collateral damage? Let’s face it none of us would want to be in any of these institutions.. The late Dr. Ivan Varga (sociology prof at Queen’s) said only 3% of our human species is mutated.. our prison populations are growing.. so where are the rest coming from?.. nurture not nature.. understandably it’s far more complicated than that, per se.. but we have to see the reality of what these institutions are really doing to other humans , and to our psyche.. the outside is by no means innocent of the affairs, as to how we incarcerate others.. and the inside want the rest of us out of “their” affairs.. time for dialogue and action.. not for some reality show.. sad to say the tipping point isn’t reached us yet.
    ..Erik, this is so important if we are to evolve as a species.. leave no one behind..

    • Stephanie

      wow, I’m with you there, Maggie. I learned a HUGE lesson a few months ago when someone I know with a “mental disorder” was incarcerated as a result of a minor incident that blossomed into huge because others didn’t understand and tried to attack him. He got all the blame, of course. I was heartbroken, but when I went to the “teacher” as I know him for help (spiritual guide) I was told: What is wrong with being in jail? Gradually I was led to look at it from all sides, and I realized that from the physical side a jail is the same as a church–they are both made from the same substances (mortar and brick and wood and etc.), from the same mathematical formulas. They are exactly the same, except perhaps a different configuration, just as a Christian church might be different than a Mosque or a Buddhist temple. But none is better than the other, and a church is not better than a jail. It is only an “interpretation, a judgment” that makes it seem so. Then I was asked to look at it from the spiritual side, and I saw that both the jail and the church are filled with beautiful souls just traveling their own paths back to reunion with God, all of whom would shake off this lifetime and return to bliss on their exit from this earth plane. In the next lifetime, their roles might be switched. This helped me SOOO much to let go. Although it might be said that people in the church might be there by choice, and those in the jail not, I saw this as an illusory distinction. People traveling to the new world on the Mayflower were confined for extensive periods of time, monks in secluded monasteries are there for extensive periods of time–neither of them can leave, and they live under difficult circumstances. I immediately came to peace when I got this lesson. I let go of trying to change the system. I gave in to Love, that would allow the system to change of itself, for it is no longer sustained by fear. I didn’t have to do anything but see through the illusion. This is all that is asked of us. Then we will let go of the fear and see the love, and the world will become a kinder gentler place because that is the vibration we are putting into it.

      • Maggie Hunter-Brown

        I like your insight and connections Stephanie! It goes on a similar path to what Erik spoke about regarding thought, intention, what you attract, and are attracted to.. you add your own to this discussion about the various confinements we have placed ourselves in.. both historically and currently.. all the different planes that contribute to any given moment, and so much of it lost to us.. simply because we are confined to the dimension of the human body and to the Earth’s plane.. I have always enjoyed the talks and thought contributed here by CE peeps et al.. thank you so much for yours Stephanie 0:-)

      • Stephanie

        It was fun. maybe we’ll talk again soon.

  • Rede

    I wish to have a mix out of the weak European and the hard American justice system.
    In Europe you get often just 10 years for murder and way too much “being on probation” for even heavy crimes.
    While in the U.S. you receive years in jail for every piss.. A mix out of both systems would have a good result.

  • I hope they overhaul the system. It’s in such desperate need.

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