Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jun 2000
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2000, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Daniel Sahl


Kingston, Ont. -- The fact that the United States is willing to
reincarcerate Allen Richardson (U.S. Fugitive Back In Jail After 29
Years -- July 29), a man who, under different circumstances, could be
the poster boy for rehabilitation, gives us all reason to reflect on
the role of prison sentences and the concept of Western justice.

Who are we kidding? Our concern is not about reintegrating deviant
members of society back into the fold. It's about punishment; it's
about retribution. I believe that, had Mr. Richardson been forced to
complete his sentence under those horrid conditions, he would not have
become as productive and respectable a member of society as he is.

In an instant, a worthy, decent member of our community is branded a
criminal when his distant past is revealed. Why must he abandon his
family and return to prison? The answer: He has to pay his dues, no
matter how long ago he committed the (insignificant) crime. We don't
give a damn about rehabilitation: We just want our pound of flesh.
- ---