Crime and Punishment

The New York Times reported that the senior official in charge of their Food and Drug oversight was sentenced to death for corruption. In America, Scooter Libby was sentenced to 3 years in prison for leaking the name of Valerie Plame to the press, a treasonable offense. He was then let off the prison hook by President Bush and will have no significant change in his lifestyle.

The question is: Which system works better? Both are highly flawed. Corruption is bad, but a death sentence? That seems harsh. Also, Scooter’s crime was bad too, but no punishment at all? Come on, there has to be some middle ground. Why is it all or nothing? Why can’t government officials and other white-collar criminals be punished fairly, neither too lightly nor too harshly?

I am still sick of all of our prisons being filled with drop-possession offenders. We have a prison space issue. Almost all of the drug-possession criminals behind bars are poor black men. We are not doing society any favors by locking these men up. They just harden in prison and become dangerous.

A woman on the radio said something which really surprised me. She was talking about Scooter Libby. She said that we should lock people up that we are afraid of, not people we are mad at. I thought this was incredibly stupid, but also very revealing. Does this mean we shouldn’t lock up any white-collar criminals? How do we really deter white-collar crimes then? Should Milken have been let go? Should Nixon? Should Gordon Gecko? And locking people up that we are afraid of… Does she mean she is afraid of violent criminals or just of young black men. I tend to think the latter. Fear is driving our crime and punishment system, deep down.

I wonder, what the psychological motivation is for the death sentences? Are they mad or afraid? Which is better? Both systems need alot of work.

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