Is the prison system in America about retribution or rehabilitation? I think it’s more about retribution. How else might one explain the conditions in which prisoners life (and sometimes die)? How else might one explain the abuse, rampant at the hands of the inmates and guards alike?
Retribution is different from rehabilitation, and it also differs from restitution, which many justice systems try to incorporate. Retribution is driven by a base and animal hatred, it is vengeance over and above any damages owed. Retribution is, “It’s not enough that you compensate me for my pain and suffering, you too must suffer!.” (Never mind the fact that non-violent drug offenders are the cause of no pain, and no suffering — there is no one to whom they owe restitution!)
Some people think it is (or should be) about rehabilitation, instead. I’d ask those people what they think of Susan LeFevre, who escaped from a work release program in 1975, made her way out to California, married, and raised children. She was initially convicted of a non-violent drug offense, and has had no problems with the law in the 32+ years since her escape. If the object of the justice system is rehabilitation,a preponderance of the evidence in her favor demonstrates that she’s been rehabilitated, that she is not a menace to society.
Of course, I don’t think that LeFevre (or Walsh, or whatever her name really is) should ever have been incarcerated to begin with, so there’s certainly no reason to lock her up, now.
Supporters at FreeSusanLeFevre.com want to know why the “State of Michigan [is] spending valuable tax money to imprison Susan Lefevre?” After all, the Police State is losing money, hand-over-fist, just in order to keep current prisoners under lock and key. My guess is that the State of Michigan is trying to make an example out of LeFevre, which clearly points towards retribution, and away from rehabilitation. I couldn’t ask for a better example of how the State is violent and rotten to its core.