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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Overcriminalization is Overreaction

I'm forty-five years old. When I was growing up as a military brat and attending school in a variety of different school systems over the years, it was common for students to have pocket-knives. I had one, and so did all the other boys in the school. There were fights, and I was in a few of those fights, but not once did it occur to me that I should pull that pocketknife out and use it in the fight. I guess times have changed. I guess kids have changed, too. Nowadays we can't trust kids with a pocketknife for fear they might stab another kid with it.
After a student reported to his teacher that [12 year-old] Miles Rankin had been showing his friends a 2 inch pocket knife in the school bathroom, Miles, a dedicated student with good grades, was handcuffed and taken away in a police vehicle—in view of his classmates—to a juvenile detention center.

At a hearing in juvenile court, Miles was shackled and handcuffed as if he were a dangerous criminal. The judge presiding over the hearing, who also happened to be the attorney for the school board, decided that Miles should remain in the detention center. Miles’s parents were only able to pick him up on conditional release the following evening, after he had been imprisoned for over 48 hours. The punishment didn't end here to read the full story
Some people reading this might be nodding their heads in full agreement and mouthing trite platitudes about rules being rules. The same man that would stand up and declaim self-righteously and sanctimoniously that rules are rules is also the same man that used to take a very similar pocketknife to school himself as a young boy. So I ask you, how can a person in good conscience decide that wrack, ruin, and obliteration is a just punishment for breaking a school rule which has only existed for at most two or three decades?

You see, nowadays we just can't trust our children. We can't allow them to have a two-inch-long pocketknife in school at the age of seventeen. Things change so quickly though, don't they? One month later, when this untrustworthy seventeen-year-old turns eighteen, and with high-school diploma in hand, we will then, suddenly, be able to trust him to enlist in the Marine Corps and swear sacred and binding oaths. A few months after that, we'll be able to trust him with an M-16 and a couple of clips full of 5.56×45mm shells.

Our entire justice system is reactionary, not preventative. Everything is geared towards finding the perpetrator after the commission of the crime and then putting him in the care of the state for a number of years. Now that we have this walking statistic in state hands, he must be taken care of much like slaves were taken care of while working at old pre-Civil-War plantations. If you think about the life of a prisoner, about how he's treated, about how's he's fed and clothed, and worked, some startling similarities begin to align themselves don't they?

Did you know that the only anti-theft device that is currently endorsed by the law-enforcement community is the Lo-Jack? How ironic that the only anti-theft device endorsed by law-enforcement only starts working once the crime has already been committed. Once your car is stolen police move Heaven and Earth to get that car back and put that criminal in jail. He may have already totaled your vehicle, but the good news is that the perpetrator has been permanently installed in one of our new modern penal plantations.

Whether it's a speeding ticket, shoplifting, a drug offense, or a violent crime like rape and murder, the police only respond once it's already too late. This reactionary model is similar in schools. Yes, they've got metal detectors which no kid who knows he's carrying a weapon is going to walk through...full-stop. Yes they have zero-tolerance policies which are only unfairly harsh to the non-violent students. This is not prevention! This is Kabuki Theater and it is the same sad and pointless theatrical production the TSA is performing every day at your local airport.

The lesson we learn in school nowadays is that we can't trust our children with a two-inch pocket knife, but we can trust them with an eight-inch long wooden stake which we will help them sharpen in every class-room. Yes, vampires would definitely feel a tad bit nervous in our modern classroom setting.

How did our great society of basically good people go from where we were, to where we are today? How did we go from god-fearing to just plain fearing? The direction this country has been headed for the past thirty years or so is the wrong direction. I think we all know it. I could point some fingers, I suppose. I could lay a great deal of the problem at the feet of our entertainment industry. Whether that is violent music, violent movies, or violent video-games, they each and all seemed designed to be veritable blueprints of mayhem.

Some people reading this might be shaking their heads in disagreement. You might argue that just because you watch a movie about a mass-murderer killing a bunch of kids one-by-one at some kind of summer camp doesn't mean you're going to go postal at your local school. That's true of course, but there's always that one isn't there? There's always that one person who actually believes the email from the Nigerian who just wants some nice Christian American to accept his seventy-two million dollars—[72,000,000.00 USD.] for purposes of investing in American business. Just pay the Nigerian's lawyer an ever-longer assortment of odd-sounding fees and those millions will be winging their way to the states.

My grocery store actually has an "As-seen-on-TV" aisle! If you've flipped past infomercial after infomercial, it may have occurred to you that people are taken in by these things time after time. So there's always that one kid who may take a two-inch pocket-knife and run amok. Sure it could happen. It's the kind of thing that luckily is much less common than for instance someone from your own hometown hitting the mega-millions jackpot. Meanwhile a thousand boys are expelled and sent to an alternative school which is really more of a reform school than an alternative school. They're not going to be learning positive role-model lessons from their peers in this environment, I can assure you.

I'll point one more accusatory finger. The lion’s share of the blame for the ever-more shameful situation our civilization finds itself, rests with our litigious minded court and its associated attorneys. No fault divorce and child-support are to blame for hundreds of millions of single-parent homes. Tamper-evident seals on everything from toothpaste to Tampax—and the passed-along packaging expense associated—are because of a legion of civil attorneys and their bread-and-butter—the lawsuit. When a lawyer can sue a school over the Pledge of Allegiance, what remains off the table?

h/t Conservative Compendium

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