Monday, September 8, 2008

Punishments and the law.

Time.. time brings up the images of clocks ticking, trees growing, mountains failing, and ultimately brought to dust... but how much more interminable, how much more real, is the time spent behind jail bars? Moments blur into days, days into years, each moment taken as part of the restitution for a crime against society. These moments are irreplaceable. They are the punishment for crime, a time of solitude to reflect upon the crime, and separation for the society which was wronged by that crime.

it is both tradition, and law, that the sentence thus set was full restitution for the crime, an end to the debt, to the onus of that crime. Each moment stood as pains and penalties, written in the life of the offender. The jury stood, with deliberation complete, and it was stated in solemn tones that the offender was guilty, and stated the sentence. That was the measure of the crime against society, the measure of the debt and onus to the society.

In this day far fewer go to a real trial. The Department of Justice indicates that the percentage may be under five percent. The legal system has been streamlined, due to the volume of plaintiffs, but in proportion to the magnitude of the responsibility, does that not bind even more firmly the judge and the prosecutor to the letter of the law, and the determination of the societal debt?

Yet, we pass and create laws to register, to restrict, to limit people after their time. People would argue that the felon's right to keep and bear arms is and must be limited in order to protect the public, but even so, do they also not bear a right to protection? If that protection is not provided, and cannot be by the government, do they not have the right to self protection? Is it not a maxim, that any item once carried and used to protect or assault, is an arm, and a weapon under the purpose of law?

So it is as well, with sex offenders. The fear of the public seeks to bind upon them more and more chains, for the protection of society. But where the original judgment was placed, was that not decided to be sufficient for the crime committed? If it was sufficient, by what right, and what power do we bind more upon a man?

Is it not an equal offense to create a situation of servitude, subject to writ and whimsy, subject to retribution and fell intent, opening the probability of vigilante action, and denying them and their families any measure of protection? Is it not equally culpable to create situations wherein the rules can be changed, not for action or inaction, but simply because the perception was that the punishment was not enough?

When, then, is the punishment enough? When one can come back a year later, and decree new punishment? Is it when a man can come back ten years later and decree new punishment? SHould the aura of prospective punishment exist for life?

At this point, the legislature becomes bullies, existing upon the flesh of those registered. At what point is it enough? At what point can we say that we have had our pound of flesh, and the bleeding corpse can expire in peace?

And by what power, what right, do we extract that burden from those around the registrants? What motivates us to do so? Fear? Hatred? Anger? Are these the course of a wise and just population, or the tools of hatred and oppression?

Hate motivates only hate. Injustice motivates injustice. The circle and cycle is complete and equally as vicious as the process by which sharks tear each other apart at the first hint of injury.

The rights were to be restored at the end of the sentence, as they were always. Yes, an offender could move on elsewhere, and reoffend... but he took the equal chance of finding a judge, and jury that was not so kind, or even being slain in the commission of new crime.

But taking the law, and turning it into an instrument of abuse, of tyranny, and even going so far as to being slavery by denying them the most basic of human rights, that of shelter, family, work, property, and even the right to leave their oppressor...

What are we becoming? And dare we look into that darkness in our own soul, and gaze upon its magnitude... and not weep for the future we see in ourselves?

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