Restitution v. Imprisonment

Introduction

Programs of restitution by offenders to their victims should be instituted on a wide scale as the primary means of dealing with non-violent criminal behavior. Charles Colson and Daniel Benson address the issue of how to treat convicted persons and their victims.[1] There are two primary rules or assertions that are addressed in their essay Restitution v. Imprisonment.[2] Basically, restitution is an act making the victim of a crime whole again. Often, this means a payment of monetary value to the victim for a crime that was done to them. In contrast, imprisonment is the warehousing of persons convicted of crimes. Frequently this means cages, concrete, and guards. If you have been charged with a crime, you should call me. I am a Criminal Justice Lawyer.

Imprisonment

Currently, there are over 2,000,000 people locked up in the United States of America’s mass incarceration system.[3] This is costing the U.S. taxpayer billions. Imprisonment represents a legitimate way to place violent persons away from society for the safety of society. Imprisonment has evolved into a systematic tool of oppression far from what should be permitted ethically. Violent offenders should be imprisoned, this would follow the Christian Worldview, “whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.”[4] 

I am heavily persuaded that restitution is a more equitable avenue for non-violent criminal offenses. Placing the victims of non-violent crime in better position then what they had been in prior to the perpetration which had come upon them would serve society. Though, there must be a limit to that in the since of recidivism, which at a certain point should lead to imprisonment. The effects on the community however, of imprisoning individuals for non-violent crimes is not wholly justified.[5] Recidivism represents half of all prisoners.[6]

Restitution

Restitution is a far better choice for both perpetrators and victims of non-violent crime. Certainly, restitution would also be a better choice for the American taxpayer.[7] Paying back the victim of a crime would entail the need for a mechanism to deal with that sort of redesignation of the penal system. A way for the perpetrator to meaningfully pay back the victims. This follows the Christian Worldview, “if a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells is, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.”[8]

A major issue with criminals who commit non-violent crimes like theft is that they would not have the money to pay back the victim of their crime. For example, Bernie Madoff whom stole vast sums of money from his victims spent a large amount of that money and now the money is gone, unable to be recompensed to the victims. Another example would be shoplifting, if someone stole from the grocery store, it is probably because they did not have the money to buy food in the first place. Therefore, as in both examples it would be difficult to obtain restitution from a perpetrator.

Conclusion

Charles Colson and Daniel Benson grapple with the conundrum of which is better for society and for the victims of crimes. The instillment of apprehension to commit crimes and the assured knowledge of confinement. Or, the focus of putting the victim in better position then they where in prior to the crime. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For non-violent crimes, restitution is most likely the better option and, this is congruent with the Biblical Christian Worldview. If you have been charged with a crime you should call a criminal justice lawyer.

[1] Herbert W. Titus, God, Man, and Law: The Biblical Principles 279 (1994)

[2] Id.

[3] Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2022 (March 14, 2022) at https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2022.html

[4] Leviticus 24:17 (King James)

[5] Murray, Joseph, and David P. Farrington. The Effects of Parental Imprisonment on Children, Crime and Justice 37, no. 1 (2008): 133–206. https://doi.org/10.1086/520070.

[6] Benecchi, Liz, Recidivism Imprisons American Progress, (August 8, 2021) at https://harvardpolitics.com/recidivism-american-progress/

[7] Supra Note 1 at 280

[8] Exodus 22:1 (King James)

Criminal Justice Lawyer

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