I was put in handcuffs for the first time when I was 29 years old. I was labeled a prisoner that day and have since spent 2,096 days and nights in the captivity of the U.S. federal government. I’m still in prison, condemned to die here with a life sentence and no parole. Prison is nothing if not boring, so I’ve had many hours to think about all sorts of things, including who, if anyone, really belongs here.
By Indri Schaelicke | United States
Since the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the War on Drugs has destroyed countless lives. This campaign often oversteps constitutional restrictions to searches and seizures without warrants or probable cause. Worse than this, however, is the pain it inflicts upon families. For mere use of an illicit substance, the state takes people away from their loved ones.
The libertarian argues that the state is based completely on violence. From its starting point, it is a violent institution and has violated the rights of individuals in a coercive manner. When the state taxes, it is stealing, and there are no exceptions to this.
By Daniel Szewc | Poland
The majority of the world’s modern justice systems, although punitive in nature, have a few major flaws.
Firstly, it is wrong to jail people for failing to pay their taxes. Ultimately, it does not matter how high the taxes were. This act puts someone in a cage, where his only option is to live off of state money. Though he is there in the first place for not giving the state enough money, he now can be the cause of even greater monetary losses. This is beyond paradoxical.
Bearing this in mind, we must now apply a similar argumentation for the crimes that have physical victims involved. In many countries, rapists and murderers live in prison for decades off of taxpayer money. This warrants a risk of them running away, which happened to Glen Stewart Godwin. Sentenced to prison for a brutal murder, he ran away in 1987 and then again in 1991, and hasn’t been found since. Stanislaw C.’s case is another excellent example. After serving a 25-year sentence for the murder of his wife, he murdered another woman because “he wanted to go back to prison”. It is impossible to justify murderers and rapists living off of tax money that the victims and their families helped to pay for.
According to psychology, surroundings influence behavioral patterns in an incredible manner. The more time one thief spends with others, the more likely he is to learn new methods of stealing and prepare to steal again. Understandably, in the current prison system, many of the thief’s fellow inmates may also be thieves, so this very thing may occur. In prison, it is also worth noting that the thief will be subject to potential drug addictions much more than in the outside world.
Well, what should we change the prison system for? There are only two types of punitive damage: moral damage and physical damage. The prison system takes a bite at the former, whilst leaving life lasting consequences. The only other option is to rely on the latter. Fines alone cannot exist as a judicial course of action for any crime, as such a system would mean that billionaires would be unpunishable. A physical punishment, on the other hand, is admittedly harsh and horrific. But the consequences of such when entering society are far lower than that from years in prison. Moreover, the punishments would be cost-effective and timely, robbing far less of the prisoner’s life and exposing them to a harsh environment for less time.
As for rapists, murderers, and pedophiles, a death penalty ensures no further harm. As civilised people, we cannot allow the possibility of such predators escaping. If there’s one place nobody can save you from, it’s your coffin. For example, one Polish murderer, Mr. Poznański, nearly killed a psychiatrist with a glass that he smashed whilst she was examining him. He had admitted to his prior murder long before the examination. With a guarantee of guilt, the death penalty saves future lives. Though unpopular, such a system actually does a better job in guarding life and liberty than the current prison disaster.
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Thomas Calabro | United States
Perhaps one of the most polarizing debates in our political environment is how to prevent crime from happening. This is a legitimate issue to debate as we desire security from threats against us. But the fear of crime usually leads us to the inclination of sacrificing our constitutional freedoms for “security”. For most of these cases, the inclination is utilized by politicians who harp on these emotions to instill a greater requirement to implement their policies. They wish to be the heroes that stopped crime and saved our society violence by providing more tools for the local and federal governments, and seizing our rights to privacy, to bear arms, and to live peacefully.
There are those who oppose these policies and call for protecting our constitutional rights, these so called “heroes” rebuke by delegitimize the rights and liberties being violated. Those rights are portrayed as a risk for flourishing more crime, and are not even protected by the constitution. If this tactic of disparaging their opponents argument fails their next move is to simplify the argument to this context to either preserving liberty or obtaining security. But rather than using more direct approaches that sacrifices our rights, we should focus on the indirect approach of not creating the crime in the first place.
We should not support policies that create instability in the world, and lead to insurgency groups retaliating against us for creating chaos. It is easier to understand why radical groups rise up to attack an intruding country when you think in terms of China invading the US. This is a point that many view as equating the US to terrorists, but should be seen as an acknowledgment that many will react to situations in similar ways. Viewing those in the Middle East as different from us detracts the ability to fully understand their actions as very similar to what ours would have been if we were in that same scenario. We would not end terrorism by detracting from our current interventionist foreign policy, as that would likely not be the case. However, reducing instability in the world would prevent more groups from rising from power vacuums, especially those that are provided arms by the US, that will be used later against our troops.
We should start asking “Why” a perpetrator would commit a heinous crime rather than “How.” Looking at the psychological, social, and cultural issues of a group, and understanding why people from this group commit violent crimes, is a reasonable way to notice a pattern that ultimately leads to violence. Yet many refuse to look in this way and instead focus on the tools used in the process. The idea of prohibiting the use of this item from some, or even all, and hoping to stop a plotted attempt has grown popular in todays society, providing a “quick fix” that will supposedly save the day. But this not only threatens the individual liberty of each law abiding American, it also may have unintended consequences, simply leading some to find other ways to obtain these goods and perpetrate acts of evil. By looking at the causes of acts of violence, we may find a more disturbing fact in our society that drives people to take the lives of others, and create new strategies to fix this permanently.
Finally we should question whether the crime is really harmful. We should be a country with citizens that abide to the laws, but the laws that we follow must be reasonable and follow the very principles of our country. We must understand that not all laws truly follow the principles of this country, and to keep them around is to approve of their purpose in our country. If we are to uphold the principles of our Country to make the US a symbol of liberty, we should look at our past mistakes of infringing on American’s freedoms to make sure they are corrected in our present and will never happen again in our future.
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