I am aware that there is a disconnect between the systems that determine guilt and punishment, and the systems that would be needed to remediate the failed aspects of a person’s makeup that allow criminal behavior.
I’m also aware that the percentage of people with ADHD is significantly higher among inmates of correctional facilities than the percentage of same in the “free” world.
And this makes me aware that we punish after the fact, rather than repair before the need for punishment. The so called “correctional systems” that encompass arrest, trial and punishment are meant to be a deterrent. Rarely do these systems actually rectify the issues and characteristics that cause the problems they are in place to deal with.
In fact, the “correctional services” are noted for their ability to facilitate the escalation and even diversification of the very behaviors they are meant to be correcting. To put it bluntly, corrections facilities are often viewed as peer run trade schools for blossoming criminals.
Before anyone starts saying I’m suggesting we abolish these systems, understand that my concern is with societal and mental health.
Listen to this …
On Monday, in my town, several fires were set by a person or persons who caused the loss of 15 households and the need for ten people to be attended to in hospital for smoke exposure.
A subsequent arrest of a 17 year old male has brought a collective sigh of relief from my town. And from me.
That was short lived relief …
But now I’m worried about the young man who has been arrested. His future looks bleak, with trial and punishment on his docket. And there will likely be little hope that the reasons for his assumption that this behavior was something he might pursue will be explored.
Why did he do this?
People will want to know why he did what he did, but they will be satisfied to learn the chain of events, and shake their heads and say that it is beyond their understanding.
I’m still asking why …
But I wonder about the “why” that tells about the way in which these actions could be processed as activities that are acceptable. What in his short 17 year life made him feel that other people’s lives could be risked so nonchalantly? What experiences gave rise to the assumption that the destruction of property that represented homes to so many was an acceptable activity.
These are not the failings of a 17 year old, but the failings of the systems that we think impart values on our members of society.
What does this tell us?
This is yet another warning that the assumption that one size fits all just does not work. Some need more, more assessment, more assistance, and more support.
The fact that the only system we have in place to determine who might need extra help in being socialized is the system that investigates crime and the only system we have in place that remediates those same people after they are determined to need help is the criminal correctional system means that we still do not get the needs and the problems of people with social and mental health issues.
And that makes me sad.