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

Don’t forget about Erik’s Hour of Enlightenment radio show TONIGHT at 5:00 PM PT/7:00 PM CT/8:00 PM ET. No more than 15 minutes before the top of the hour, call 619-639-4606 to ask Erik your question. There are three ways to listen: Listen on the phone line, click on the “Listen” icon on the right sidebar of the blog or click on this link:

Be sure to write happy birthday wishes on Erik’s brother’s Facebook wall! Happy birthday, Lukas Grant Medhus! I love you, pumpkin!

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Elisa Medhus

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