Re: How terrible and ironic

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Posted by panch from ( on Thursday, July 18, 2002 at 10:05AM :

In Reply to: How terrible and ironic posted by Jeff from ( on Wednesday, July 17, 2002 at 11:58PM :

: From the news story:

: "Samantha's family said they moved from nearby Garden Grove to Stanton a year ago because they wanted a safer place for their three children where they could play outside without fear."

+++There will come a time when we can't run to anywhere...we'll then either have to make a stand or be defeated by our own inaction. There is no such thing as your children being "safe" while all around them so many are being exposed to dangerous lives.

Our policies will be our own undoing. The sad thing is that we want revenge, in the form of tough prison sentences and executions. Killing all criminials is one thing...but housing them by the thousands in cruel and humiliating circumstances only to release them angry, hurt, even more damaged and with so few options...means we release into our society not only a steady and volatile supply of hopeless individiuals..but they breed children as well...and you can imagine what kind of hell they pass on.

In a Puritanical society we take great satisfaction out of inflicting harm on people who have shown themselves is God's justice we tell ourselves. This is why prisons now are unabashedly about punishment and degredation...not even any lip service to "rehabilitation" "coddling" of prisoners...all those stories the same mean spirited Repubs used as campaign issues, such as TV in the Day Room...athletics in the prison yard...and a host of imagined "luxuries" crimminals were given at our expense while we worked hard and played by the rules etc.

This is what we get in return. Leave these children on the streets...ignore their mental and psychic and physical health...deny them meaningful education or opportunities for the goodies they see broadcast all around them in this opulent country, things they are teased with 24 hours a day, things no one will get for them, until they steal them for themselves. Not all deprived and neglected and abused children of course.

But how many dark and hairy men did it take to bring this country to a standstill and change our legal system...and put irrational fears into all of us? How many abused and neglected children will it take to turn into predatory adults who will force all of us to lock our children up inside and live in dread of the addmitedly small number of deranged men who will kidnap a child and torture it to death? It doesn't take an army of them to make a catastrophic impact on they way most of us will begin to see didn't take ten men to kill that girl, one was enough...and his act will reverberate among millions of people...and effect the way countless children will be welcomed into the world by their fearful parents.

We don't think that when we institutionalize cruelty and revenge, we really harm ourslves in the long run. For that brief moment of satisfaction at the thought of yet another prisoner executed or harshly treated, for the gratification of our own desire for vengeance, as if to say we can are helpless to do anything BUT retaliate...we set into motion forces that will change the way we live outside of prison, "free".

How empty the thought that this man...that all the men who steal and rape and kill our children will be brought to "justice". Where was Justice for them when they were born against their own wishes and with no desire or choice of their own, into horrendous lives you wouldn't want to know about? There is no "justice" in Life...there certainly wasn't any for the legions of neglected and abused children we'd rather not hear about...not until we read with grim satisfaction that they paid the "ultimate" price. For them, it was indeed the ultimate...coming logically at the end of a long life of misery and abuse, to which their crime and its punishment seem to flow in an unbroken trajectory. It is us, and our children, the "good" people, who will receive the sharp blow to the gut, that sinking, awful to imagine feeling, when out of the blue and in our safe neighborhoods where our pampered and loved little darllings will be stolen away to end their short lives subjected to things they never experienced in our secure unspeakeable end they were in no way prepared for...that we felt sure would NOT be the end of the trajectory of the lives we were hopefull planning to make for them.

Who really gets punished worse?

If we want to be consistant, if we care about the "good" people, then let's just execute all offenders...I mean ALL of them. Whatever we do let's not send them in for further abuse and torment, releasing them years later with nothing more than a long slow course in hatred and meaness and a sense that whatever they can do to retaliate against those who put them there is worth it.

If we don't want to have that much blood on our hands, because that will carry its own moral rot into our hearts...then let's do something entirely different...inspite of the fact now that prisons are a growth industry with powerful unions and lobbyists.

I remember like it was yesterday, the last night on the island when the boys cooked a crab dinner for myself and Roy, our case work supervisor from the Parole Department who'd returned to spend the last week with us. After dinner we sat round the fire for hours talking about so many things...the island experience...their backgrounds, changes, the future. They were curious as to what I was going to do next...

I knew I couldn't do the group home thing anymore. Giving what amounted to Welfare to kids only after they'd succeded in harming themselves and terrorizing other people enough...requiring me to maintain all sorts of health and recreational and educational benefits, and paying me to do it...seemed like a lost cause. It merely delayed the moment when these kids were going to have to learn to stop wallowing in what had been done to them, as awful as much of it had been...and look to the getting to work in the present.

One thing I knew for sure...these boys, and girls...were a lot more creative and capable than they were being given the chance to demonstrate...and they wouldn't even bother to do that if it wasn't in their own basic self-interest to do so. Unwittingly the State required they remain "disturbed" and a threat to themselves and society or it would cut them off from the most secure and dependable source of human caring and financial stability most of them had ever known. The requirement for receiving this largess was to first of all committ enough crimes to qualify, and second,,,to stay "incurable" for as long as they qualified for the benefits. There was no reason, no incentive to "get better"...none.

My idea was to get a grant to rebuild one of the many sailing ships not too badly neglected in harbors here and there. To get some of the old salts I'd met to supervise and become, not counsellors...mentors maybe. The kinds of guys who'd never enter a college but knew instinctively how to handle aggressive and lost young of talent and life experience such as these kids would respect. Something none of them felt for the collection of oddballs and weirdos who passed through their lives as Social Workers.

I outlined the plan to them sitting by the campfire...under the clear sky, late at night on an island by a lake in the Straits of San Juan...and they listenned in rapture. My reverie was broken by Roy...sighing as he dashed the ashes from his pipe against a rock near the fire. He said it would never work...that as good and solid as the idea would never be allowed, or would be halted when it got going...once the obvious happened.

He was right. He said he for one would quit his job and go to sea with us...and so would many a grown man and high school kid. How many of them are where they are because the law and custom and their parents mandate it? Who wouldn't want to run down to the sea in ships...get away from school and the streets for a year? Even though the life would be diffciult in many would be appealing in that many more.

Today I can't imagine many normal kids leaving home to go sailing up and down the Pacific coast...stopping to pitch camp...perhaps build a permanent one. There would have been schooling and chores and work. But there would have been a kind of freedom too...a kind hardly anyone tastes anymore and certainly not teenagers. Maybe everyone wouldn't have left their jobs and schools to sign on.

But the program would not have had enough "punishment" to it...and that, is the main point. We don't want to coddle these types of kids, these budding criminals. We want them treated spend long hours with nothing to do, to have their will broken, their already frail sense of self-esteem shattered some hopes that they will reflect, get scared enough to learn those valuable lessons no one ever bothered to teach them in any other way. I doubt any of us could learn algebra under those conditions, let alone the kinds of Life lessons we all need...none more so than these kinds of kids who've already told us in about every way they can that they need some serious and positive intervention...not warehousing and more abuse.

In our desire to punish others, we're ultimately punishing ourselves..and Justice.

-- panch
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