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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crime And (Suitable) Punishment

We live in a world where people steal children from their homes, a world where people rob and kill others for little more than the clothes on their back and a few dollars in their wallet, a world where people are dumb enough to think they can get away with such crimes or basically just don't care. What if the punishment for such crimes was so unimaginable that everyone would be literally terrified of breaking the law? If every prison/jail were run by Joseph M. Arpaio, known as "America's Toughest Sheriff," I think we'd see a huge drop in crime across the board. I'll share some of the details of his tactics later.

The local news where I live reported that a girl was last seen Friday after leaving a friend's house near Tracy, California. Kidnappings are almost as common as car theft these days, just go into the local WalMart and see the wall of missing children. Of course, this is not merely a rant against kidnapping and those who commit such an inhumane and unforgivable crime. I guess seeing another child's face on the screen and reports of possible abduction really got me fired up about making punishment across the board far less merciful. Upon watching the update this morning regarding the Tracy girl, my wife and I were talking about what kind of people commit such acts. She believes that anyone who would kidnap a child or commit any kind of sexual act with them or kill anyone has to be mentally ill.

My response, in speaking of harsher punishment, was "what if anyone who committed a specific crime received an automatic life sentence, had all assets sold off to help pay for their confinement, and their family became responsible financially for the emotional trauma of the victim and the family of the victim"? Of course, then I realized that even some of the most notorious criminals came from perfectly sane and law-abiding parents and that would not be fair justice. The next question is... "are killers and criminals born or made"? There are definitely different types of killers and criminals, like those who kill out of necessity and those who kill to satisfy an impulse. Regardless of the reason behind committing a crime that involves any level of harm to another person, there has to be some kind of screening that can be done during the teen years to "weed out" kids with questionable thoughts before they do any harm or grow into a dangerous person. I'm sure the first objection to a screening system would be "how would it be funded" which is really sad, or maybe some would feel it's damaging or intrusive. Possibly.....but what if a controlled group of students from schools all across the U.S., or even just in high crime areas, were monitored and screened and the results showed a drop in crime among people that age in that area?

Referring back to Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his approach to inmate treatment would be considered harsh and bordering on inhumane. If you ask me, anyone who is capable of murdering someone outside of true self-defense, or taking a child from their home either to hold them hostage or kill them, deserves to be treated in the most inhumane way possible. One of Joe's inmate facilities has been described as "a cockroach-infested hellhole" and "hell on Earth". Joe has made prison exactly what it should be, and that's the last place anyone would want to be; he makes everyone there very clear about what rights they have (or don't have). In 2007, Joe instituted an in-house radio station he calls KJOE. The radio station broadcasts classical music, opera, Frank Sinatra hits, patriotic music and educational programming. It operates from the basement of the county jail for five days a week, four hours each day. He set up "Tent City" as an extension of the Maricopa County Jail in an effort to tackle over-crowding without building a new jail. During the extreme temperatures in Phoenix, the tents have been recorded in temperatures up to 150 degrees. During the summer of 2003, complaining inmates were told by Arpaio "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents and they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your mouths."

Of course, there would be no real progress in society if people avoided committing crimes for no reason other than to avoid going to such a place. However, if it keeps children safe and rape and murder down, it doesn't really matter why it's not happening. Perhaps we could give those who commit any of the serious offenses a choice of life imprisonment at one of Joe's facilities or a lethal injection to save taxpayers' money. Of course, that would mean they still have rights and those should be lost upon conviction anyhow. The message overall is that we've failed at giving people sufficient motivation to avoid committing crimes and given inmates' rights undeservedly. Had Mr. Arpaio been appointed the Department of Justice chief long ago and given full control to assign punishment for all crimes I think millions of murder, rape and abduction victims just might be here today. Perhaps some day we'll stop protecting those who have taken lives and damaged the emotional health of others and make it clear that it's not only illegal but not tolerated.

My proposal for the future handling of a handful of crimes:

Murder (of any kind): life imprisonment in solitary confinement or lethal injection, decided by parent or spouse of victim, and liquidation of all assets to pay for incarceration or given to family of victim if offender is executed.

Rape (1st offense): minimum 25 years imprisonment, liquidation of all assets to pay for incarceration and emotional therapy for victim, mandatory registration as sex offender, regular monitoring and counseling to confirm rehabilitation from first offense. First offense refers only to rape of an adult, if offender commits rape on minor, 2nd offense charges automatically apply.

Rape (2nd offense): life imprisonment in solitary confinement

Abduction (not including any physical harm): minimum 25 years imprisonment, liquidation of all assets to pay for incarceration and emotional trauma suffered by family and abductee, regular monitoring and counseling to confirm rehabilitation from first offense.

Abduction (including sexual assault or other assault): minimum 50 years up to life imprisonment, liquidation of all assets to pay for incarceration and emotional trauma suffered by family and abductee, mandatory registration as sex offender, regular monitoring and counseling to confirm rehabilitation from first offense. In the event that sexual assault is repeated from prior Rape offense, solitary confinement is included in sentence.

Assault (shooting/stabbing/battery): minimum 25 years imprisonment, liquidation of all assets to pay for incarceration and medical bills of victim assuming survival. Mandatory anger management sessions and counseling. In the event of death of victim from injuries, refer to Murder charges.

Burglary: minimum 25 years imprisonment and liability to up to four times the amount of property damage and stolen property.

Now, just imagine if that were a nationwide policy against crime!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stand By Your Man

Rush Limbaugh has recently voiced his disapproval of President Obama's policies loud and clear, going as far as saying that he wants our new president to fail. Personally, I have always found Mr. Limbaugh to be an annoying blob who spews nonsense in a desperate attempt to feel relevant. This latest attack on Obama, in my opinion, shows just how un-American he can be as he preaches to the invertebrates of America. Rush's rants have rarely gone unchallenged, as he's been verbally destroyed by Keith Olbermann as seen HERE, and probably many others.

Everyone who voted Bush into office, as well as those who voted to keep him around for a second term, were proven wrong; myself included. Of course, voting for Bush was hardly a vote for prosperity or hope; more like choosing least terrible candidate.

Barack Obama has been our 44th president for 66 days, and has been made to justify his actions as if he's the one responsible for the stumbling economy he willingly accepted as his challenge, along with many other difficult tasks he'll face. He literally carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and unless all Americans get behind him and allow him to do what he was voted into office to do, our economy and our future are at risk. Many claim that he's not upholding promises he made during his campaign, at least not to exact specifications. I find his answers and his actions completely appropriate considering the fact that he has to completely reverse 8 years worth of damage.

The barrage of questions he received at his last televised press conferences were primarily focused on the economy and his budget proposal. He responded to the negative reception of his plan by saying that that he's being criticized for his plan, yet no one came up with a better budget. In the film The 40 Year Old Virgin, Jay says to Andy "What has felt right for you doesn't work! You need to try some wrong, dawg." I think there is a direct similarity to the state of the world right now as we watch Obama take steps to bring the world back around to a Clinton-Era economy, which was very strong. People fear change but obviously what went on in the White House throughout the Bush administration did not work.

As I said before, just after Obama won the election, the best we can do to show our support as Americans is to give him a chance to turn things around. As for the Rush Limbaughs of the world, your rants are not only un-American but they're unwelcome and you should only spew your ignorance if you're willing to concede after you've removed your foot from your mouth.