I don't know if you'd had the opportunity to hear someone say, "Oh, let him/her stay in jail. It will knock some sense into him/her. It will teach a good lesson."
Before my son went to jail, I heard that a couple of times, wayward kids picked up for a variety of things, locked up over night. People talk about the lesson learned, the great things that might happen with that lose of freedom.
I don't believe it. I don't think jail teaches us anything but to be inhuman. Yes, we have the famous examples of people learning to understand themselves and the world while in jail. Malcolm X is that shining example of a person brought to himself by the experience of incarceration.
But the dehumanizing aspects of jail--the loneliness, the noise, the same color clothing, the horrible food, the rote and stock behavior of guards trained to keep everyone at a static level of behavior--can destroy people.
In a class a while back, we were talking about the Amish practice of shunning versus putting people away. We moved on to talking about a smaller societal group punishing someone rather than calling on the greater forces, such as the police and the court systems. What we came to was that while the group punishment--shunning or denial of membership to that group--probably works as well as locking people up. We have countless reports of recidivism and actual worsening of behavior while in jail. Why do we think it works?
Have you ever considered how weird it is that we take the people that don't function well and put them away? Great groups of people in small places, people with hard lives all in one big group. Does that make sense?
While in court yesterday, a man (with a crime he would not reveal to me), he said to me, "Man, it's all human nature."
And it is. And I have no answer except to say that what we do doesn't work at all. Human nature will make us act out--and yet, we have no way to deal with it that works.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org