Corrections 3

Murder

I ask you to think about this terrible word, one that strikes fear in most of us. Can you imagine living near a murderer? What about having a person convicted of murder as a friend or family member? Should those who have committed murder ever get out of prison? Should they even be allowed to live? Can a person who has committed murder ever be a worthwhile citizen?

These are serious questions and ones we casually ponder at different points in our lives. It might be when a well-publicized murder takes place or when the circumstances are more unforgettable or perhaps when it has been geographically close to us. Today when probably none of those situations are present, let’s answer the hard questions.

  1. Do you support Capital punishment? I never have. During my studies of the criminal justice system over the past several weeks I did not change my mind on this matter.
  2. Do you believe in a sentence of life without the possibility of parole? As a result of these classes, reading, and research, I have changed my mind and no longer believe that this should be a punishment. If there is no incentive for release where is the incentive for rehabilitation? It’s not “corrections.” It’s not “criminal justice.” It is simply punishment.

3. Have you ever been mad or afraid enough to take the life of another person? I cannot say that I have, but I can imagine how this happens. I believe that a good person can do terrible things under certain circumstances and that they, even murderers, can change. It is worth noting that murder has one of the lowest recidivism rates of all crime categories.

I’m not going to go into great detail, but one day in class two men who had been convicted of murder were our guest speakers. Each had committed their crime while very young and each served over twenty years before receiving parole. Both concentrated on getting an education while in prison and they have used those degrees to find work since released. What’s more, both work now to help others in the prison system and their families. They spoke of their crimes, took full responsibility and voiced their regret. I would welcome either as next door neighbors.

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“Why do we incarcerate? Are we afraid or angry?”  Mark Bolton, Corrections Director, Louisville, KY

The SOURCE of most of the information of the past two posts is a class at Bellarmine University taught by Gaye Holman, Author, “Decades Behind Bars: A Twenty-year Conversation with Men in America’s Prisons.” Today’s post is mostly my personal opinion. 

Photo and Graphic by Pixabay

8 Comments

  1. Points to Ponder, for sure! I have never been a proponent for capital punishment either. However, upon thinking of your questions, I asked myself, if one of my family members had been brutally murdered, would I be so easy to forget and forgive? I would hope that somewhere in my heart, I could at least be able to forgive! I agree, that the penal system needs reform, and that there has to be a better way of correction, that leads one to hope and change for a better life! Thank you, Sue, for all your thought provoking blogs❣️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is no doubt that being a victim’s family member puts things in a different perspective. Victim statements are taken into consideration during both sentencing and at parole hearings.

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  2. I vividly recall a well-publicized execution in Indiana in 1981. The perpetrator had murdered a woman and her three children in 1979 (I believe). My daughter who was 7 at the time of the execution, asked me such a profound question, and since then, I have been solidly against capital punishment. Her question? If they are killing him for killing them, who is going to kill them (the executioners) for killing him? It made me rethink my position.and to this day, I am grateful for the insight and wisdom of a 7 year old. Executions do not bring back the victims, and cause more heartache for families who will experience another round of loss of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re apt to get a lot of different answers to this post! Here’s my take:

    I feel the answer to these questions lies in the word “Motive.” And maybe our understanding of evil. There are people who, in the heat of a moment, or at the provocation of one person, strike out. Sometimes too hard. Or for whatever reason they pull a trigger. They are usually, once sober again, filled with some remorse. They have nothing against people in general, women, blacks, etc. I believe this type of criminal can be rehabilitated and released without deadly consequences.

    Then there are other people who, at some point, have given their minds over to anger and evil. They feel victimized by society, or women, or other races, and are to some extent exacting revenge. They often have a history of abusing or even torturing animals and innocent children when they can get away with it. They love the feeling of power, and usually are driven by some inner demon that won’t let them rest until they see some other creature suffer. They become almost two people: their normal (often meek and easy-going) persona; their vicious persona with the demon in control — and usually become serial killers.

    Like the people Jesus met up with and set free, if these people can be delivered completely from those inner demons that drive them, they can be “cured.” However, I don’t know about releasing them to move freely in society. Nor do I completely trust a psychologist’s evaluation of “cured.” A murderer seemingly can be so well-behaved in prison; the demon or anger seems to “lie low” until they are out and have an opportunity or provocation again. Then it rises up and drives them to another vicious crime.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a little late in jumping in, but have just discovered this thought-provoking blog. Incarceration is such a complicated subject with many unintended consequences. I have a couple of points I’d like to make about the comments under the corrections section.
        I think, as hard as it is, that we should try to lessen the impacts of emotion from the decisions made in the criminal justice system. Victim’s anger is completely understandable and they should have a say, but decisions of sentencing and parole should be made with objective standards that are equal for all and using standards that have been statistically shown to demonstrate rehabilitation. I’ve never thought it fair that some prisoners have to serve many years longer than others for the same crime just because their victims have held onto their anger.
        My experience in the prisons is that over a long period of time, most inmates change – either for the better or for the worse. No one comes out unchanged.
        I’ve known a lot of men and women who have committed truly heinous crimes, and I’ve never found one without some redeeming qualities and private wishes to be different. That doesn’t mean I think they should be released but we must remember they are hurting, damaged, humans and do our best to help them improve for their own sake, if not for society.
        Sorry, forgive my soap box. Everyone has made good points here. It’s such an important topic that touches us all – not just those in prison.

        Liked by 1 person

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