Ederik Schneider Online

Monday, July 14, 2014

Future of Freedom Foundation: Opinion: Sheldon Richman: Crime and Punishment in a Free Society

War on Drugs Victim

The Future of Freedom Foundation: Opinion: Sheldon Richman: Crime and Punishment in a Free Society 

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger 

Before you talk about crime and punishment in a free society you should first talk about what exactly is crime and punishment and what is a free society. If you are currently confined in prison as a convict or in jail either serving a light sentence as far as time, or awaiting trial for a felony, well obviously your world or society is not free. I mean seriously what sober person in their right mind not mentally challenged in any way would choose to live in prison or jail. But what is crime and punishment? Well I'll tell you what it should be which is punishment for crimes against society and innocent people's freedom. Especially the Right to Life that jail or prison is the only option as a suitable punishment for the offender once convicted.

A free society is not the freedom to do whatever the hell you want including hurting innocent people. Which is what Neoconservatives and to a certain extent Progressives seem to think it is. Which is why I'm neither a Neoconservative or Progressive. A free society is where a society where the people have the right to mind their own business and manage their own individual affairs. As well as being held responsible for how they manage their own affairs. Where law enforcement comes in is to manage how people interact with each other. Not arrest people for what they do to themselves and try to protect people from themselves.

But that is not how crime and punishment works in America. You can be a victim of a real crime with the offender getting away with it because law enforcement, or the prosecution, or a combination of both screws up the case with the guilty walking away because their constitutional rights were violated. And you can end up doing time in jail or prison for something that is not really a crime in a true free society. But government has taken upon itself to try to protect us from ourselves. Like being arrested for gambling your own money. Or being arrested for possessing or using pot to use as examples.

We have roughly two-million Americans give or take in one form of incarceration in the United States if you add up federal, state and local government's. And a big reason for that and not the only reason is because America is truly not a free society. We are freer than most if not everyone else when it comes to individual rights and personal freedom. But a big reason why we have so many Americans in prison is because we arrest people for either their own good. Or sending people to state or federal prison when they could've been given probation, or sent to a halfway house, county jail or even rehab.

It is not just that we aren't a true free society that America has no many prisoners. But also because we over-sentence and too many times use prison as the first if not only option when it comes to felonies in America. And I'm talking about real crimes, but also things where the prison should be the last option because the only person the offender is hurting is them self. The War on Drugs comes to mind damn fast. And if you are thinking I'm not offering any solutions to this problem, think again. Because I already have, but I'll repeat them. Make America a true free society and don't use prison as the first option for lower-level felonies especially where there are better options available.