Changing Our Views on Criminal Justice
Here I go again, babbling about criminal justice
I’ve spent a lot of words attacking the concept of criminal justice, as many anarchists and other peace-advocates have, exposing the corruption and ineffectiveness of the police and prison systems. However, we also need to try to focus on a vision for the future, and how our world would work without these systems, as I think many who don’t understand just let their imaginations run wild and just see a Mad Max world where everyone is just running around killing and eating each other. This isn’t their fault because they’ve been so inundated with the idea that criminal justice is effective in protecting us and that there’s all these evil people running around everywhere.
We need to provide a different vision for these types of issues, one based on peace and communication rather than guns and prisons. If we can help people to envision this, perhaps we can go a long way in getting people to understand the anarchist/pacifist perspective and why it’s more effective.
There are many alternatives to guns, prisons and police forces, but to embrace these, first society needs to change its attitudes about crime. First, we can’t think about criminal justice as the opportunity to punish someone. It may be very satisfying to know that an evil criminal is suffering behind bars, but it doesn’t address the actual problem. The bottom line is whether or not the system actually prevents and reduces the overall crime rates. Too often policy makers, judges, police, juries and the public allow anger and disgust to affect decisions forgetting about the bottom line because it’s so emotionally difficult to think of a horrible person not “getting what he deserves”. Somehow we need to put an end to these attitudes and focus on the crime and violence prevention techniques that have been scientifically demonstrated to be effective. First and foremost we need to recognize this psychological tendency toward justifying vengeance, and recognize that it’s usually damaging. We must use our logic to stop ourselves, even if justice/vengeance feels so right. We need to teach our children very early that vengeance is not productive and to recognize when vengeance is being disguised as justice, as it quite frequently is with our current system. The other thing we need to realize is that most criminals are not raging monsters.