Archive for the 'justice' Category

Punishment does not undo damage

January 20, 2014

Maybe I should have written a reply to a reply one of my NYTimes comments received.

Richard Luettgen wrote about “dreadful consequences” that “cannot simply be expunged.”  I was talking about limiting punishment, especially of juveniles, and not having an adjudication dog them for the rest of their lives with negative consequences — limit the punishment to the actual terms of the sentence.

I don’t think any incarceration expunges the consequences of criminal behavior.  The movie is not run backwards, and then replayed with different action, on account of a participant’s punishment.    The impacts are still there.  But that — how to address the negative impacts — I think is a separate issue.  If we incarcerate people until dreadful consequences have been expunged, I don’t see on what basis anyone would ever be let out.

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Acknowledgement and the blood feud

March 13, 2012

I am aware that we have moved beyond exacting payment from family members for an individual’s damage.  But the sensation I had when my brother-in-law learned, belatedly, about something that had befallen me at the hands of his parents and their colleagues many years earlier, and said something to me that indicated he understood it, made me wonder whether blood feuding didn’t arise out of something we’ve lost touch with.  Because I had told that story I told my brother-in-law before, to other people, and I had never experienced the sense of relief I got from his reception of what I said.  It was almost as if his acknowledgement was a stand-in for the acknowledgement I would never get from his parents and their colleagues.  I don’t know why it felt that way, I wasn’t expecting it, the issue had come up unexpectedly in a conversation about something else, and the conversation started off with some amount of tension, but after the whole thing was over, I had some peace I had been missing.  I didn’t at all associate him with the misdiagnosis and the permanent damage — he wasn’t involved or even a doctor at the time — so his acknowledgement was not some kind of admittance on his part of something he had done, but his being able to “get it” when I told him, and to see these people he was close to in that way, I think was what helped me let go of something I was apparently holding onto.  Maybe that’s what justice through a court system does, maybe it allows someone who feels damaged to have a mechanism through which other people acknowledge their reality.