With the recent rise in (drug) gang shootings in the lower mainland, including one that happened 20 feet from where I had been parked half an hour earlier, I have been considering our societies response to crime.
Fear and anger has consumed the reason of many who call for longer sentences. It is important to remember when looking for answers to any problem, that if the solution to the problem was simple and popular–the problem wouldn’t exist. Tougher sentences have been tried, but have never been shown to substantially lessen crime.
Those with nice homes and families fear losing them and it is understandable that they often think that everyone has as much to lose. It is difficult for some to understand the madness of the medical condition of addiction that causes so much of our crime, but it should not be difficult for them to understand that those that do not fear death from overdose, disease, or gang violence–will not fear prison.
We must also ask ourselves whether we want to build our society on fear and punishment. Have we permanently confused vengeance with justice? Are we so delusional, that we honesty think a society built on the Christian principles of love and forgiveness will fail, or be inferior to our own?
All truly bad behavior is caused by the needs of an individual not being met. People turn to drugs and crime because of a insecurity, medical conditions, poor upbringing, depression, or desperation. This should arouse our pity and compassion–not anger.
Prevention of crime is the only justice. No matter how high the fine, no matter how long the sentence, or brutal the torture–the crime has been done. There is no need for society to create a second victim or re-victimize the “bad guy”.
Incarceration is in most cases temporary, and we must consider what will happen to the community when a person is released from jail. It may be tempting to suggest that we should never let them out, but we should remember that most of us at some point in our lives have done something that is considered a crime or was once considered a crime. Should you be locked up forever?
Those we label as criminals today are also capable of great positive change. As a society we should endeavor to help those that have wronged to not commit wrong again. Nothing could be more criminal than allowing our fear and anger about the past limit the future of our society.
Some of the “crime” in our society is actually caused by our own unreasonable expectations of how individuals should act. Where there is no victim, there can be no crime, and all of us want the freedom to decide what is best for ourselves when no one is forced to be hurt by our actions.
The majority of gang violence is drug related. It is the fuel and funding of gang and organized crime activities. Prohibition creates the means, motive and opportunity for gang violence. Prohibition is criminal–especially the prohibition of cannabis which is much less dangerous and addictive than alcohol and tobacco. We can put an end to most gang violence in B.C. tomorrow by legalizing, regulating and taxing cannabis.
It is time our drug policy reflects the facts. It is time to end crime–not fight crime.