Recently, a couple weeks ago or so, my wife pointed me to this article on CNN detailing the way inmates convicted for some especially heinous sex crimes are held indefinitely *after* they have served their entire sentence. These individuals are given no indication of when, or if, they will be released. The legislators enacting the laws, and the supreme court, have called this justice, IÃ¢â?¬â?¢m not convinced.
The confinement these people are being subjected to, for an indefinite amount of time, is, according to the law, for rehabilitation. The Supreme Court has declared this practice acceptable so long as it serves on as a way to rehabilitate the convicts and not to further punish them.
I’ve spoken before about the way ex-convicts are treated and why these felons are repeat offenders and it seems to me that the state has a somewhat lackadaisical view of what constitutes punishment, perhaps even a hypocritical one. LetÃ¢â?¬â?¢s take, for example, a murderer who is serving 10 years. If this murder misbehaves during his 10 years, perhaps he becomes embroiled in a prison brawl in the cafeteria and stabs a fellow inmate with a home made knife… like you might see on television, he would likely be Ã¢â?¬Ë?prosecutedÃ¢â?¬â?¢ within the confines of the prison and if found guilty would most likely have additional time tacked onto his sentence or be placed in solitary confinement. In this case the prison sentence has determined that further restricting this individuals contact with the outside world is the appropriate way to discipline them. In the case of the sexual deviant, however, the state believes it is not punishment to further confine someone who has served their entire sentence, so long as they are being rehabilitated.
Not only is it clear that the prisonerÃ¢â?¬â?¢s confinement for rehabilitation is a form of additional punishment, It is obvious that the current implementation of this rehabilitation is horribly inefficient and not in the best interest of tax payers. Rehabilitation costs the government somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 million dollars annually, 150,000$ a year per individual. For the state governments implementing these policies this money comes after the massive cost of boarding and caring for these prisoners while they served their actual sentence.
The solution seems obvious to me. We should ship these prisoners directly to rehabilitation when they are taken into custody to serve their sentence. I donÃ¢â?¬â?¢t see why they should pay their time twice or I as a tax payer should pay for them twice. At the endÃ?Â of their sentence we should release them. If it is decided that they have ben rehabilitated then we can move them into the regular prison population for the remainder of their sentence.
I hear you. You are thinking, Ã¢â?¬Å?Well, hot shot, what are we going to do with people who have finished serving their time and havenÃ¢â?¬â?¢t been rehabilitated yet?Ã¢â?¬Â For them I think we already have solutions in place. Use of chemical castration drugs is a well established practice for ex-felons convicted of sex crimes, though not a practice I generally approve of, it also feels like a second punishment to me. I think the only responsible thing for us to do is to release these individuals into society and have them meet periodically with a parole officer and have them visit free rehabilitation sessions until they are deemed to no longer be a danger to society. This solution would allow tax payers to still save money because we would only pay for the counseling / therapy and it would provide the newly released criminal the freedom they deserve for serving the entirety of their sentence.
Any better ideas out there for both punishing these criminals and reintroducing them into society after they have done their time?