Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Congressional Issues 2008
Prisons and Punishment

see also Fines

Prison is a form of torture and vengeance. It does not serve the interests of justice.

"There Oughta Be a Law!"

Actually there already is a Law. The Declaration of Independence speaks of "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."

When someone says
"There ought to be a law!"
he really means
"There ought to be government action
 -- there ought to be vengeance --
there ought to be misery and pain inflicted on the person who offended me!"

And when the government says "Mr. Smith has a right to quality health care," that usually means that Mr. Jones better pay for Smith's healthcare, or pain and misery will be inflicted on Jones.

"Prison" is the government's threat of pain and misery.

Consider this op-ed from the Los Angeles Times in June of last year:

     Here's what California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer said at a press conference about Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay: "I would love to personally escort Lay to an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, 'Hi, my name is Spike, honey.'"
     Here's why Lockyer should be removed from his office of public trust: First, because as the chief law enforcement officer of the largest state in the nation, he not only has admitted that rape is a regular feature of the state's prison system, but also that he considers rape a part of the punishment he can inflict on others.
     Second, because he has publicly stated that he would like to personally arrange the rape of a Texas businessman who has not even been charged with any illegal behavior.
     Lockyer's remarks reveal him to be an authoritarian thug, someone wholly unsuited to holding an office of public trust.
     But his remarks do have one positive merit: They tell us what criminal penalties really entail.
     Contrary to some depictions of prisons as country clubs, they are violent and terrible places.
Tom G. Palmer, 'Hi, My Name Isn't Justice, Honey,' and Shame on Lockyer, L.A. Times, Wednesday, June 6, 2001

What is "Justice?"

Suppose I steal your car. What is "justice?"

Justice means I give you your car back. Plus the money you spent on renting a car or bus fare. Plus whatever other damages I caused you by taking your car. Justice means restitution. Justice means the victim is made whole, restored to the position he was in before the crime was committed.

"Justice" does not mean that you, the victim, must pay $25,000 a year to lock me up with "Spike."

next: Campaign Finance, Corruption and the Oath of Office