Pubdate: Mon, 07 Nov 2005
Source: Cayman Net News (Cayman Islands)
Copyright: 2005 Cayman Net Ltd
Author:  Nina Scott


Dear Sir,

Persons that commit crimes should indeed be punished. Our patriarchal 
society has come up with the idea that hiding them away from the rest 
of the world is the answer to dealing with criminals. However, what 
happens when our prisons become too full to accommodate all of those 
we deem as 'criminals'?

We cannot expect to hide the undesirables away forever and have the 
government pay for them to rot in a cell. Those who have not 
committed serious crimes are not eligible for long sentences by our 
system of law and therefore will be let out in a few months or years.

When they are let out without any rehabilitative efforts, they are no 
better than when they began their incarceration. In fact, prison 
conditions of being out of society, lacking normal socialization and 
being treated less than human often turns out individuals who are 
even less capable of normalizing within our society and therefore 
more prone to continuing their criminal behavior.

It is important to investigate the root of what led the individual to 
commit the particular crime and offer some type of psychological and 
behavioral modification to ensure that he/she no longer has the 
desire to commit crime. It is not enough to keep a person locked up 
and expect that once they are released they will not break the law.

In the instance of violent crime there are definite psychological 
disturbances that cause an individual to feel they should and will go 
ahead with the crime. For example, a man who rapes a woman may have 
been sexually abused as a child, he may have grown up in a violent 
home and developed certain feelings toward women and what he feels is 
morally right.

This does not make the fact that he raped acceptable but without 
exploring the possible causes and trying to change his way of 
thinking and behaving, this criminal will be released and will 
probably commit rape again.

In instances of nonviolent crimes we need to look at the individual 
and assess what social conditions caused him or her to break the law. 
For example, a person convicted of trafficking narcotics should 
indeed be punished, but after serving his time and being released 
into society he will more than likely return to his previous way of life.

By looking into what factors influenced his decision to sell drugs, 
we can offer him rehabilitative guidance to not continue the 
behavior. Perhaps he grew up in a family where narcotic sales were 
the norm, perhaps he fell through the cracks of our educational 
system and found that selling drugs was an easy way to make a living.

Whatever the reasons may be, we as a society need to look at these 
and rehabilitate the human before sending him back into society after 
serving his sentence. Also, by being able to identify the social ills 
and psychological inconsistencies that influenced these individuals 
to commit crimes, we can prepare our youth and begin to take 
preventative measures with them to decrease the instance of crime.

It is easy for us to forget that these people are human. As a 
law-abiding Caymanian I do not think that criminals should be allowed 
to walk free and continue to terrorize my people. However, without 
rehabilitative efforts and preventative efforts we will soon find 
ourselves surrounded by criminals and prisons.

There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Well 
sometimes that child turns out to be a criminal and it is only the 
village to blame. We need to investigate what led the individual to 
break the law so that we can prevent that from reoccurring in our children.

We must also remember that many convicts in Northward and Fairbanks 
are brothers, sisters, mothers, husbands, fathers, sons and 
daughters. We need to rehabilitate these people so that they can 
return to their loved ones and function in society. I believe this is 
possible. It is only a matter of how much we are willing to work on 
actual rehabilitation and prevention.

We are blessed with a men's prison which offers decent living 
conditions and a few rehabilitative programs but we still have a long 
way to go. Organizations need to actively network with each other in 
their programming and bring these programs to the public so that 
prevention and rehabilitation are consistent and accessible to all in 
our society.

Nina Scott
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