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Crime and Judgment – A Chance For Community Consciousness and Involvement

Crime and Judgment – A Chance For Community Consciousness and Involvement

I have not heard the details of what the new British Justice Secretary is proposing on prison reform, but I understand it may involve less incarceration and more rehabilitation in the community for lesser offenders.

The cries of protest have begun to be heard already at this idea. For me, if it is done sensibly, it will be a wonderful example of and opportunity for community consciousness and involvement. Apart from the fact that most prisoners re-offend soon after leaving prison, so proving that prison does not work, it is far better for people who have broken the law to atone for it by helping their immediate community.

It brings benefits to everybody, and for the offender it keeps them in a reality where their “punishment” is overseen by their local peers and not by fellow criminals in crime school, which is what prison life is becoming. The opportunity to learn and to develop a different set of values is far greater by associating with well-intentioned community members while performing their service, and, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, the inevitable sense of being judged by people who know them in their home area will be a great deterrent to re-offending.

Mr Clarke’s plans will need careful handling and explanation in order to convince the public. For me, the more our world empowers communities to be in charge of their own affairs the better, even if it involves difficult situations like crime.

Most crime is carried out within a community – burglary, littering, nuisance, theft (and crimes like rape and murder too, which may need different treatment) – and so who better to deal with it than the community itself?

Many people in Britain have approved David Cameron’s unequivocal condemnation of Raoul Moat yesterday, calling him a “callous murderer” who deserved no sympathy.

While I would not encourage tribute pages to be put up on Facebook for him or any effort to make him a hero either, I found the Prime Minister’s comments sweeping and judgmental. Yes, he killed and injured people, but none of us knows his state of mind nor what drove him to behave in this way, and it is relevant that he himself knew he had mental problems and asked for help – which was not given to him.

Nothing is black and white particularly when it relates to human behaviour. In any situation there is a veneer of reality, which is what we see with human eyes but which often is illusion. We do not know what greater forces are at work, nor what is playing out at the level of the soul. Who, therefore, are we to judge anyone?

I have not heard the details of what the new British Justice Secretary is proposing on prison reform, but I understand it may involve less incarceration and more rehabilitation in the community for lesser offenders.

The cries of protest have begun to be heard already at this idea. For me, if it is done sensibly, it will be a wonderful example of and opportunity for community consciousness and involvement. Apart from the fact that most prisoners re-offend soon after leaving prison, so proving that prison does not work, it is far better for people who have broken the law to atone for it by helping their immediate community.

It brings benefits to everybody, and for the offender it keeps them in a reality where their “punishment” is overseen by their local peers and not by fellow criminals in crime school, which is what prison life is becoming. The opportunity to learn and to develop a different set of values is far greater by associating with well-intentioned community members while performing their service, and, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, the inevitable sense of being judged by people who know them in their home area will be a great deterrent to re-offending.

Mr Clarke’s plans will need careful handling and explanation in order to convince the public. For me, the more our world empowers communities to be in charge of their own affairs the better, even if it involves difficult situations like crime.

Most crime is carried out within a community – burglary, littering, nuisance, theft (and crimes like rape and murder too, which may need different treatment) – and so who better to deal with it than the community itself?…