We were watching the old Topol character in Fiddler on the Roof. He portrays a man who struggles with tradition, struggles with the idea of changing ideology, struggles with changing his cultural prejudices. The movie is so universally accepted because all people relate to changing times and changing cultures, and the gut wrenching emotion those changes invoke.
The criminal paradigm is as old as civilization, and it has not served civilization well. It is a paradigm that is based on the simplistic concept of either good or evil, there are only good guys and bad guys – nothing else is permitted – and the bad guys should be chastised and put in prison.
The United States Prisons are bulging with examples of the madness. The problem is that there is some element of truth incorporated in the system. That simple truth, one with which I agree, is that people seldom change if they do not suffer consequences. Prison is a profound consequence. But if this is the single truth that drives the mechanism of justice – then why do people on parole continue the revolving door of incarceration?
The criminal paradigm suggests a couple of things. People must suffer consequences for their behavior. Myth: Criminals never change – once a criminal, always a criminal. Criminals are less than human and must be treated with less than human dignity. Truth: The single element of one truth seems to justify the entire paradigm – suffering our civilization to a never changing process.
How about this. If our Correctional System suffers no consequences it will never change. Not only do we not impose consequences on the failures of the Correctional System, we reward it with funding for more prisons. If what they are doing is not working, then our politicians provide more money so the prisons can do more wrong to more people, and in a less efficient manner. The laws criminalizing addiction have failed miserably – so we pass more laws and build more prisons. When the efficiency of their budget is challenged they cut funds to education, dropping programs to help the inmates gain a high school education. It is absolute madness. Madness with only one justification – the flawed Criminal Paradigm.
The “Criminal Thinking Paradigm” is taught at many addiction treatment facilities. Their success rate at rehabilitation is around 10%. The problem, they say, is that their clients are inherently flawed. They are just criminals, forever destined to be the underbelly of life. There is no accountability for the treatment or prison professionals. They use the criminal paradigm to excuse their own failures. They are the first to say that these criminals must be held accountable – but deny any accountability for themselves. That is just criminal!
It is true that people do not change without consequences. One day society will wake up to the tragedy of our inhumanity to man, to the foolish notion that we can beat others into submission, to the foolish notion that stripping a person of their dignity will somehow grant them dignity. Michael Vick is a saint when compared to the officials of the present Criminal Justice System.
Society is just fiddling on the roof. Absolute madness.