Incarceration isn’t the solution to crime

The recent Herald article about Republican opposition to prison closures was a balanced review of what the prison system is up against (“GOP senators want prison closures, early releases halted,” The Herald, Sept. 19). There is a substantial segment of our population including many Democrats who agree with these senators. The problem is prisons are not a sufficient answer to crime.

The U.S. population is about 5 percent of the world population. The U.S. prison population is about 25 percent of the world prison population. If imprisonment solves crime this would be the lowest crime country in the world. If incarceration worked to secure safety, we would be the safest nation in all of history.

We need effective alternatives to prisons and our prisons need to do more than warehouse prisoners. We need a justice system that is truly transformed into the vehicle for the accountability, safety and justice everyone deserves. The question of whether to embrace a more dignified and humane approach to violence than the current system might be difficult if the current system were working.

We should not be asking whether there is an appetite for something new. We should be asking whether there is a moral or practical basis for continuing with the old. If we would sentence felons to intensive accountability sessions and intensive treatment of their deviant behavior, that might involve their victims, it would be a tougher response to crime than just sitting in prison. People who commit harm need to repair the damage they have caused. That seems obvious, but our criminal justice system not only fails to encourage repair; it often prohibits it.

The comments of state Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, are a step in the right direction.

Richard Guthrie

Snohomish

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Monday, Dec. 6

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

A Swift bus and an Everett Transit bus travel north on Rucker Avenue on Saturday in Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Editorial: Help pick a route for Everett’s transit future

A joint study will gather information on whether to combine Everett Transit and Community Transit.

Burke: When patience wears thin, the ire runneth over

Judging by comments on news stories, the vaccinated have had it with the unvaccinated. And Trump.

Saunders: After criminal law reforms, ask if you feel safer

Laxer penalties for misdemeanors may be behind a rash of smash-and-grab thefts in California.

Comment: Some employers might actually benefit from unions

Unionized firms, such as UPS, have had better employee retention than nonunionized FedEx and others.

A map of the news deserts of the United States. White dots indicate daily newspapers; darker areas show the counties with the fewest — or no — daily newspapers; lighter areas show areas with more local news sources. (Washington Post)
Comment: When newspapers fold, no news is bad news

Communities without a local source of news see reduced civic engagement and election participation.

Robert J. Sutherland (Washington State House Republicans)
Editorial: State House covid rules won’t exclude GOP lawmakers

A requirement for vaccination only means those unvaccinated will have to attend sessions remotely.

An artist's rendering shows features planned for the first floor of an expansion of the Imagine Children's Museum. The area will include a representation of the old bicycle tree in Snohomish and an outdoorsy Camp Imagine. (Imagine Children's Museum)
Editorial: GivingTuesday offers chance to build better future

Organizations, such as Imagine Children’s Museum, need our support as we look past the pandemic.

School-age lead Emilee Swenson pulls kids around in a wagon at Tomorrow’s Hope child care center on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 in Everett, Washington. A shortage of child care workers prompted HopeWorks, a nonprofit, to expand its job training programs. Typically, the programs help people with little or no work experience find a job. The new job training program is for people interested in becoming child care workers. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Editorial: Everett must make most of pandemic windfall

Using federal funds, the mayor’s office has outlined $20.7M in projects to address covid’s impacts.

Most Read