New Jersey’s Surging Crime Rate
The 2007 New Jersey Street Gang Survey showed that gangs’ presence had been growing since 2004. More recently, crime statistics have followed similar patterns. Robbery (+6%), pocket picking (+27%) and burglary (+10%) are only some of the crimes whose frequency has increased. For those interested in the social explanation of crime and believing in rehabilitating punishments, it is fundamental that defendants be properly represented in court.
Because social and economic trends can be used to predict crime rates, I believe that any punishment system must see offenders partly as victims. In this sense, I refuse punishment based on the notion of retribution and deterrence. The retributory argument is rooted in the Christian notion of ‘original sin’ which is too simplistic, to say the least. Seeing punishment as deterrence, on the other hand, doesn’t take into account that perpetrators usually act under severe psychological and emotional strain. This is why I tend to pay attention to the social explanations of crime. In my view, order cannot be promoted by fear of punishment but through programs of social reform designed to reduce unemployment, improve housing, counter urban decay and so forth.
From an economic point of view, rehabilitation enables us to restore productive force inside our society and improving productivity as consequence. In New Jersey, attorneys like Jennifer Marshal do exactly this. They help us recover what would otherwise be permanently lost and avoid the futile witch-hunting traditional justice often leads to.
Fear of disorder and social instability has been the most fundamental concern of Western political philosophy. Today, we must all acknowledge that stability cannot be ensured by law enforcement and discipline alone. It also requires the creation of those social conditions that do not reduce individuals into scapegoats. The main human inclination is not ‘a perpetual and restless desire for power after power, that ceaseth only in death’. We know that much today.
written by Courtney Sogh
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