The Criminal Paradigm, Fiddling around on the Roof
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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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The Criminal Paradigm, Fiddling around on the Roof

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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.

There Are 8 Responses So Far. »

  1. […] I’ve put a link to this article here […]

  2. […] You’ll find more information about this here […]

  3. I was just involved with a community theater production as stage manager. The show was “Frozen” by Bryony Lavery. There are three characters, a research psychiatrist, a mother of a ten-year-old victim of abuse and murder, and the criminal pedophile and murderer. The story is how each of these characters is “frozen” in their own mind and how they can unlock from that paradigm. The main quote is the following:
    “The difference between a crime of evil and a crime of illness is the difference between a sin and a symptom.”
    In the end, the mother comes to forgive the killer. He finally feels remorse for what he has done, and the psychiatrist sees the humanity of her research subjects. All three of those things, forgiveness, remorse, and seeing the humanity of every person, is needed.

  4. Dawn,

    The definition of criminal is “acts without regard to others or without regard to consequences.”

    The difference between a real ‘criminal,’ and a person with an illness is in remorse. The person with an illness wakes up every morning in sorrow and grief – then their illness takes over and they again act out.

    No one kicks them more than they kick themselves – but we continue to put them in prison.


  5. Dawn,

    Literature is filled with ill characters, the best example is probably in the story of Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. Jeckle wakes up every morning with the grief of his behavior as Mr. Hyde – but his illness has captivated him and he cannot escape – there are only two possible outcomes, institutionalization or death.


  6. The Correctional system is being funded more money because the legislatures keep making more acts criminal. We are losing the war on drugs, it has to be about treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment. It is not a crime to use drugs, but it is a crime to possess drugs, but we still continue to punish those users who possess.

  7. Carie Ann

    Thanks you for visiting us. I just visited your site a hopefully posted a comment. Fifty years ago we shackled schizophrenics to the walls of asylums, where they were regularly abused by untrained ‘guards.’ The importance of training Correctional Officers is as important as training Police officers in the art of humanity.


  8. I’d like to address two separate issues here. The first is the erroneous use of the term “Corrections” and other related terms. There’s nothing ‘correct’ about the various departments of corrections, and there’s nothing ‘correcting’. They’re prisons and jails, nothing more. The notion of correction properly used means to attempt to rehabilitate the offender. US prisons fall into two categories; those run by the state and those run by private contractors. Within those two categories there are prisons run by the officers and those run by the prisoners. And in no case are they correcting ANY behavior that put offenders behind bars. They’re finishing schools for criminals, and perpetual homes for those who can’t adjust to life on the outside. Our notion of corrections is badly in need of correction itself.
    True, you’re not going to be able to rehabilitate every person who goes to prison. But, you can offer more hope to prisoners who wish to change than we currently do. Sure, some offer GED programs and very minor training in the crudest of professions, but nothing more. They’re essentially told that once they hit that particular bottom, they’ll never rise much above it. The exceptions to this are white collar prisons, such as the one Martha Stewart went to prison in, Federal Prison Camp Alderson, which is referred to as a ‘college campus’ compared to other prisons. It doesn’t even have bars or a metal fence.
    The second issue is why we have so many prisons and jails and why we’re seeing new ones built all the time. One word explains it: Money. Prisons are an industry. Beginning in 1981, under the Reagan administration, the rate of incarceration skyrocketed ( ). Why? Two reasons. One, the eye-for-an-eye “Moral Majority”, an oxymoron if ever there has been one, rose to power after the Republican Party made backroom deals with them in order to get Reagan elected. These are the people who are ultra-vengeful bible-thumpers, the evangelical fundamentalist extremist Christians. They’re Old Testament ideology drives them to seek the harshest penalties for the smallest crimes. Under this philosophy, we’ve seen an increase in youth offenders being incarcerated for what we once would have called their parents and sent them home with a good tongue lashing for. Now, we’re treating them and trying them as adults.
    Two, companies like he Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group Inc, Cornell Companies, and Community Education Centers make enormous profits from prisons they operate across the US, and prison construction contractors do, too. The entire business of “justice”, a term that’s become perverted today, is lucrative for lawyers, judges, counselors, therapists, jailers, law enforcement and anyone else involved in it. Prisoners make free labor for many companies and are ordered to it by courts and prison administrators with their hands in the pockets of the companies they’re supporting. It’s sickening.
    Yes, those who commit crimes should suffer consequences, but the consequences should match the crime, which it rarely does in the US, anymore. Reparations through community service and remuneration, which can only be achieved when the offender is free to work, serve a far better purpose than incarceration.
    We need to repeal the prohibition on marijuana and realize that many if not most Americans now use it and that it’s probably no worse than, and possibly not as bad as, alcohol, which is legal. Legalize pot, tax it like alcohol and tobacco, and you immediately remove the criminal element from it, and you remove the crime, as well. Do that and you can reduce the burgeoning US prison population dramatically.
    The US, with about 310 million people, has more people incarcerated than China, which has about 1.3 BILLION people. Why? Because “criminal justice” means ‘profit in the pockets of those in the business’.
    The real crime here is being committed against taxpayers.

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