Do the crime do the time vs. do the time by serving your community.
It’s a difficult conundrum…the decision to incarcerate a nonviolent criminal has a tremendous systemic impact on our economy. An impact to the increasing skills gap, to the children left without their parent, to the spouse who may become reliant on government subsidies, and so on. The decision not to incarcerate is complex as well…what of the punishment, what of the consequence, what about vindication for victims?
From a workforce development
perspective the idea of “payback through working” is at minimum, an alternative solution. Intellectual talent is a precious and waning resource in this country. Trades, highly valuable to the technology and manufacturing industry, remain in steady decline. The tremendous population of non-violent criminals with exceptional skills, with advanced education; and with valuable experience… could (and should) be considered part of the answer. Save the tax dollars spent on incarceration, spent on supporting the family, and spent on jobs that go unfilled. Exchange the time behind bars with time giving back: teaching at under resourced schools, caring for the sick, and passing down a trade to the next generation.
From the inverse perspective, time behind bars is the mainstream and more accepted alternative. Often, the victims of non-violent crimes consider punishment served when the offender is cut off from family, from friends, and from the conveniences of daily life. And also by depriving non-violent criminals of the freedoms taken for granted, the sentence becomes a deterrent for recidivism and repeat crimes.
Both arguments have their merit and both perspectives are defensible. However, and regardless of the lens, the issue persists and the statistics point to an ever increasing challenge – a challenge for the future of our economy, for our families, and for our workforce.
What do you think? Is placing greater emphasis on community service that could impact future generations worth considering for non-violent crimes?