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comment by rd95

Hmm, I don't recall having a debate with you about guns, unless it was a quick, one off exchange. A few years back, it was a pretty intense subject on here for a few weeks and it lead to some hurt feelings and I don't think anyone really changed their minds on anything. I've been shy on the subject ever since.

That said, to mirror what goobster said but also take it in a bit of a different direction, this program has a baseline element that I'm seeing in a lot of other social programs lately in that it tries to address the problem by humanizing the participants and treating them with respect and concern. It may take more time and effort, but the results can be more effective and longer lasting. It's hard though, because a lot of the time the resources just aren't there. I know a few social workers and a general government workers. They all love their jobs, but if they all have a common complaint it's that they all feel stretched too thin. The reason you don't see more programs like these here in America, like you do in other countries like Norway's prison programs, is that when you start to upscale them they become cost prohibitive.

I'd like to say, also, as an aside that the public's reaction to finding the program unreasonable ("You want to give criminals money?!") isn't surprising at all, but it is disappointing. Homelessness, joblessness, criminal history, substance abuse problems, all of them have a really strong social stigma in this country and the upfront, emotional reaction to them is almost always negative and it does nothing but to further harden these people's lives. That kind of circles back to the success of these programs though, doesn't it? How can you feel encouraged to better yourself if you feel like the whole world sees you as shit? Strength comes from within, but we often need things and people outside of ourselves to remind us how strong we can really be.

FirebrandRoaring  ·  188 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Like most people, I used to think about criminals as those evil non-humans, and if you commit crime, you're a damned soul forever and you don't deserve forgiveness. It took an open mind and engagement to recognize how false that view was, and the rightousness that came with it took a while to get unused to.

I don't expect that attitude to change. I'm not going to pretend I know what causes it, but I suspect it has something to do with vilification of criminals as a whole. Some of the worse offenders definitely deserve bad reputation, but most of them just make mistakes they come to regret later. If one starts to treat every mistake people around them make as a crime, the world becomes full of evil.

We want to discourage our children from moral digressions, but I think the way we do this may actually encourage criminality. We dehumanize criminals in the same way we dehumanize enemy in war to make killing their soldiers much easier. We make them into outliers. For people who feel like they don't belong into mainstream society, the criminal layer may become more of a home to them, and there are few positive reinforcement loops to help them learn and grow.

And when we grow up, we don't get to meet with a view opposing ours. Is it any wonder, then, that we keep thinking criminals are inhuman?

I'm not saying that's all there is to it, but I think it affects the way we see criminals.

rd95  ·  188 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I feel you. I wish I had something insightful I could say, but unfortunately, I'm pretty much at a loss for words. I think I'll just say that the ideas of social stigmatization in general and "crime" in particular are huge and often difficult to grasp. Everything from economics to psychology to culture all bind up in a massive knot that's hard to unravel and it's something countless people devote their entire careers to working on. Sometimes we as societies take a few steps forward, sometimes we as societies take a few steps back, but I think overall as we learn more about ourselves our tools for tackling a lot of social problems become more sophisticated and we do a better job. Worldwide communication has helped a lot in that regard it seems. Partly because the exchange of ideas and information helps to create better policies and decisions and partly because our exposure to the world at large is showing us how human we all really are.