Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time | Street Jazz

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time

Posted By on Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 11:08 AM

The United States has more people in prison than any other country in the world, and we seem intent  on putting even more people behind bars. According to the International Herald Tribune: “The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.”

And now, of course, we are intent on punishing children as adults. We are punishment-crazy in this country. And if one hears  rabid politicians, or the reads the less rational letters in the newspapers, we don’t care too much about rehabilitation, either.

No, my friends, punishment is what we’re all about.

It’s an insanity that is hurting us all. Brutal prisons breed brutal prisoners, who are then unleashed on society, but the dimwits who are steeped in punishment philosophy can’t think that far ahead to see that conclusion. No, they’d give an automatic death penalty after three strikes, some of these folks.

That being said, I’ve known an awful lot of guys over the years who can only offer up the following rationale for their crimes:

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’m not talking about something like drug possession, but really, really stupid, mean crimes, like the two morons who beat the man to death in Fayetteville this week.

What? I’m going to jail? Why? All I did was set fire to my neighbor’s barn. - You’d be surprised at how many idiots I’ve known over the years who thought that  was the logical response to a legal dispute.

All I did was shoot him in the leg/hit him on the head. I’m getting arrested for that? - Hey, they do it on TV all the time. There are actually people in the world who get their legal education from Matlock.

I worked with one fellow who had done a stretch for burglary, and told me the worst thing about being in prison was seeing his mother come to see him. The look of sadness on her face was enough to make him vow never to break the law again.

A few months later he was arrested, breaking into another house. Well, maybe he was Mother’s Day shopping.

No doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time.

******

Quote of the Day

I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers. - Kahlil Gibran, "Sand and Foam"

*****

Morning News changes its letters policy - what up with that?

Evidently the Morning News has changed some of their guidelines for submitting Letters to the Editor. They have changed the word limit from 600 to 500, which will raise all kinds of howling, but they have also put limits on the types of letters that can be submitted.

No open letters to public officials? No letters from office-holders or political candidates?

What’s all that about?

rsdrake@nwark.com


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