I hear many complaints about over-crowding of prisons. With 3-strikes laws you can get 20 years for smoking pot. So maybe it's the law that's broken, not our prison system. As Reagan demonstrated, drug treatment was more (cost) effective than drug punishment. But it's not about lowering crime, it's about punishing the wicked.
A totalitarian society exists when every member of society is a criminal, due to a mutlitude of unreasonable laws. America is reaching the point where most everyone can be arrested and thrown in jail for living a normal life. Which lends anyone with an agenda sufficient power to press that agenda home.
Crime prevention leads to law abiding citizens, which are not profitable, since they provide no leverage. Better to remove the legal options, emphasize the illegal, and then feel free to arrest anyone when they do something you don't like. This is where thought crime management becomes a part of regular governance.
I do not say we live in such a society, only that America is closer to totalitarianism now than at any other point in my lifetime. Liberalism, as represented by the democrats, means worse than nothing. A fad-ridden party full of corporate opportunism and dishonesty. The only party that stills believes in our basic humanity appears to be the Libertarians, but they taint basic human existance with fantasies about a utopian happy-happyland.
I don't believe in moral governance. That is, I believe the government has no inherent right to dictate moral standards. Government is a social convention solely for the purpose of legislating necesary ethical positions, so that we can choose to live our lives as we want, without undue interferance in the lives of others.
That means I'm against all limitation of rights where clear societal necessity cannot be demonstrated:
- I'm against prison terms where fines are a sufficient deterent.
- I'm against institutionalization, where reform is possible.
- I'm against punishment in all cases where prevention was not attempted.
- And, of course, I'm against the death penalty since prison time is clearly sufficient for society's interests.
When you kill someone, you are not looking to repair the damage done, you are lashing out in righteous anger at one who has hurt you. You are declaring your own moral superiority to the actions of the accused, stating that there are inherently good peole who can kill without impunity, and inherently bad people who deserve to die.
When you kill someone, you are not trying to prevent them from committing further crimes. That goal is already accomplished by their arrest. You are looking for retribution for your hurt feelings. You are declaring that God is insufficient, and taking His role for yourself.
This old view of yours, to punish the wicked, that comes from a society where moral authority comes from the King. We no longer accept that the powerfulare inherently superior and good, we believe in inherent humanity, which grants us rights and responsibilities based on nothing but our innate nature.
This is the unique way of thinking that we refer to as Democracy, and it is this which as an inevitable concequence leads to the view that imprisonment must serve as a deterent and a method of rehabilitation, rather than a Godly method for superior beings to express their disapproval upon the lowly masses.
Punishment is not a function of government, it is a function of religion. That you would use your moral standards to punish the wicked, regardless of the actual detriment to society is a classic example of why the separation of church and state is absolutely necesary in order to maintain any semblance of a fair and just society.
Laws have consequences, but those consequences are not punishments. If you steal a car, you can be forced to make restitution. That's what's best for society as a whole. If you kill someone, you go to jail. That's what's best for society as a whole. It might be a hardship to you, but so's having a tornado rip your home apart. That doesn't make it a punishment.
Laws that serve merely to punish crime, and not to deter crime, are a waste of time and energy, and destroy the fabric of society. Remember how Jean Valjean went to jail for feeding his family? Yet he stole even more afterwards. Because the law sought only to punish, not to repair.
We do what we believe is best for society, but we do not have the right to go beyond that. Locking someone up for life, that is sometimes necesary to protect society. Killing someone is never needed, only sometimes more convenient God alone may judge what punishment a person deserves, and God alone shall judge each of us for the judgements we pass onto others.
Laws that flow from God (as in a monarchy) may include the taking of human life, because as better-than-human the King has the right to judge who is unfit to keep God's gift.
Laws that flow from the people may only extend so far as any individual person's rights extend. So that society may act to protect itself by killing a violent person in defence of its members (police officer shooting a gunman) but it may not commit premeditated murder as a convenient way to clean up the prisons. There is no person in a democracy who is so far superior to the law that they may pass judgement upon the individuals below that law. There is no hierarchy of law.
That you can presume yourself worthy to condemn another to death indicates that you do not view yourself as a human being, but as something superior. Or perhaps that you believe the American government to be superior to individual human life, which is equally false and dangerous.