You said you wanted input, I have been very thoughtful of late and with all the murders and rapes recently have been considering crime and punishment. I would like to propose a policy for treatment and rehabilitation of criminals. I am pretty sure we can agree that there are a few distinct types of crime, I want to focus on Petty Crime, Economic Crime and Violent crime as my main dividers. I am not going to spend much time defining petty, economic or violent crime. These definitions will need a lot more input.
For the sake of argument let's define petty crime as criminal acts without threats of violence, crimes of opportunity ie: The theft of a bicycle left unchained on a lawn. Petty offences to include traffic violations, littering and so on. A full list will make this article unwieldy.
It has long been posited that Goal is a breeding ground for more crime, a training ground where people incarcerated for being stupid, will teach the other incarcerated for stupidity more tricks of the trade. Maybe first time offenders should be treated differently to habitual offenders or those guilty of violent crime. For the sake of argument exclude any violent crime from this treatise until we discuss them.
First time offenders arrested for petty crimes should never be sent to prison. The fact is that as a first step in the process we need to have a consequence that will be felt, yet not so severe as to harm the offender for life. It is my contention that community service and restitution would suffice.
If Joe steals a loaf of bread from Sue, he should be sentenced to community service for a predertimined period which would be spent cleaning hospital floors, picking up litter, cleaning the roadsides and many other such tasks. Joe would also be required to do an act of restitution for Sue. Depending on the value of the item Sue would be able to call upon Joe to sweep the floors of her Spaza shop for a day or two. They will also then be given a suspended sentence for a period of life.
Repeat offenders get no second chances and go to jail for a minimum of 5 years.
Economic crimes are our second category, This is the theft or defrauding of others without the use of weapons or threats. The moment a threat enters the equation it becomes a violent crime. Once again these offenders should be put in a position to offer restitution and rehabilitation for first offences. The community service and restitution components will obviously be extended to suit the crime, someone that stole R 1000.00 will receive a lesser sentence than someone that stole R 1 million Rand. Restitution to include payback of the money stolen plus interest. A suspended sentence to apply for life with a minimum sentence of 10 years.
Violent criminals deserve no second chances. These criminals get sent to High security prisons for periods not less than 20 years.
Suggested prison sentences: Armed Mugger: 20 years, Domestic Violence: 20 years, Assault with a weapon: 20 Years, Rape Life with no Parole, Murder Life with No Parole.
Second time offenders are goaled for life with no parole.
Discussing the rights of prisoners, It is simple they have the right to work, and to sleep. They have the right to medical care. They do not have any other rights because by their actions of preventing others form enjoying their rights, they have forfeited their own.
There should be two types of prison. Open Prisons where offenders that do not pose a danger to society would be incarcerated. These prisoners would have day jobs with their salaries to be used for two things. First to pay for their board and lodging in the prison. No one gets to eat free, and the second portion to their victim as restitution.
A Prisoner would have access to a bed, a cupboard to store his stuff and ablution facilities. Television and Entertainment are for people that are part of their community, not those that are outlaws and criminals.
Violent Criminals would be housed in camps and work in chain gangs. They should be repairing roads, breaking rocks and other jobs that would ensure that they knew they were being punished.
Obviously this concept needs fine tuning and definitions and gradations, but the overall concept makes sense and would prevent crime.
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