When I listen to people talk about punishment or the penalties with regards to crimes, especially crimes of violence or crimes that involve substance abuse or any abuse for that matter, I often wonder if people fail to realize that punishment is not always a deterrent.
Keep in mind, I say this while thinking about some of the people I have met throughout my life. To them, time is just time. And to them, whether their time is spent in places like Rikers or Otisville, Sing Sing, Downstate, Federal or in a State facility and out of state or otherwise, to them, there is no worry or regard for the law.
I have listened to people speak about gun laws and the need to improve these laws but yet, the law itself is not a deterrent. And no one talks about this.
If murder is one of the most illegal crimes to commit, and yet, murder still happens with the strictest of punishments, why would a gun law be a deterrent?
For the record, perhaps I should say here that my thoughts which I am about to share with you are neither pro-gun laws or ant-gun laws. Instead, and for the moment, I would rather discuss the temperament and attitude of some which somehow go unaddressed.
I have heard the term serial killer. I have heard the terms active shooter or mass shootings, which, for the record, we are four months into the year and there have been over 130 mass shootings in the United States, but hey, who’s counting right?
I have a question though. Over 130 mass shootings were reported and yet, where do these reports come from? Do these reports take into consideration the gangland neighborhoods where drive-by shootings commonly happen on a frequent basis. What parameters are taken when studies like this are taking place and are all factors taken into consideration. What defines a serial killer? Isn’t this someone that kills in regular volumes? Then I say again, have we discussed gangland killers and are they considered serial killers as well. Or is this different because the odd romance with death differs than say, the likes of prominent names such as Bundy, Dahmer or Gacy?
I understand law. I understand the need to uphold the law. Of course, I do. However, I think it is important to point out that there are people in this world in which, no matter what the punishment is and no matter what obstacles stand before them; whether there is a box to be checked off or not, there is a certain mindset that exists in our society which goes unaddressed all too often.
I have seen people throughout my journey. The law is not a deterrent. I have seen them endure punishment in places that most people would not conceive. I met recidivists, in which, I mean those who move through the revolving door we call the prison system.
At what point do we address the fact that there are people that are comfortable to live this way? At what point do we address mental health and our treatment of mental health? Moreover, at what point do we realize that for some reason, mental health is almost taboo? Throw money at it. Throw them in jail. Do whatever it takes, let’s not talk about it though because this is too sensitive. By the way, have you looked into the recent tally of murder suicides recently?
You should. The numbers might surprise you.
For some reason, no one wants to discuss this. Instead, we would rather focus on the machines instead of the operators. Instead, we seem to focus on symptoms. However, and in fairness, how do we address the different cultures in the world? How do we reach the unreachable and how do we solve the problems we face as a society?
I do not and never will claim to say that I have the answers. I can tell you, however, that more people are stabbed to death. More people are killed with other weapons than rifles. Hence, I bring back the focus on the machine and the operator. The reports I have read on this matter are literally gruesome. However, I did not want to allow the gruesomeness of truth to dissuade me from learning more.
As an advocate and specialist, I have run programs in jails. In fact, and if I could, I wish there were ways to do more. I wish there were ways to learn more. And, since education is key, I wish there was a way to utilize this information to create a different plan. And by plan, I mean I wish there was some way to address the operator instead of the machine.
In times of my past, it has both been said by me (and sworn by me) that when the mind is set, no one can take the crime away. When the mind is set, no one can take the drug away or the bottle. No one is going to change the decision of someone that has already decided.
There is a cold, relentless truth, which frequently goes unaddressed. And the truth is that yes, there are some very cruel people in this world. There are people that are capable of the unfortunate. There are people that have abandoned themselves in such a way that no law or ideas of punishment will stop them from committing their crimes.
How do we learn more about them? My questions are how do we address this and how can we respond to the operators more than the machines. In which case, again, I agree with the need for laws. I agree with the need to uphold the laws and keep our streets safe; however, and additionally, since laws are not always the deterrent, how do we address those who have no regard for the law and protect people at the same time.
Before writing this paragraph, I had to take a deep breath with a heavy exhale.
I say this because I have met people throughout my life that lived a certain way. I have lost friends to the court systems. I have watched people spin through the revolving doors of either treatment centers or institutions. They were good people to me. At one point, I knew them in their boy scout uniforms with merit badges. I have friends who’ve consulted me about family members and discussed the disbelief of such atrocities like murder and rape, citing, “How is it possible that this person is related to me?”
In recent cases, I was contacted about a man whose crime was so disgusting and cruel. He nearly killed a woman who fortunately survived the physical aftermath. I say it this way and regard the physical aftermath because I am not sure how anyone survives the mental aftermath. How does someone mentally come back after something like being left for dead as a bloody mess in a hotel room, bludgeoned and sodomized, beaten and robbed.
I bring this up because the so-called man who committed these crimes has been caught in the revolving doors of the prison system, and yet, where was his so-called rehabilitation?
I have seen the jailhouse mindset. I have watched people who’ve become content with being placed in 23-hour lockdowns or locked-up for years or longer. I have also met people who’ve lived their life as a habitual criminal for so long that when they come out, in their minds, all they will ever be is a convict.
There are those too who only feel comfortable behind the prison walls. There are those who have a strange addiction with jail and go to “Lie down” so to speak and do a quick stretch of time, just to catch their breath.
I knew someone who would say this.
“I’m going to go lay down for a while.”
I understood what he meant by this. However, the sound of this saying and the interpretation that was taken on by his family or the mother of his child and his daughter . . . it was so cold.
“I’m going to go away now.”
“I’m going to go lay down.”
I think about this. I think about the mindset behind this. I think about my ideas of creating a documentary and the ideas I have about going deeper into this unfortunate truth.
You can have all the laws you want. It’s not the law. It’s not the machines we create. It’s the operators. More aptly, it is us. This is our society.
I just want to see us get better.