Which came first, the carrot or the stick?
My guess is the stick, as it is mentioned in the old testament. It’s quite literally an age old debate as to which is more effective. Like many parents I prefer to use the carrot when I can, but the stick has it’s place in most parents wheelhouse – some just wield it more freely.
I believe both are necessary to raise balanced children, one without the other, or even emphasis on one, beckons lifelong behavioral issues.
We all know of parents who eagerly give their children everything they ask for, regardless of the child’s level of effort or maturity. We also know of parents whose first reaction to trouble is a beating. These are of course extremes – most of us try to help the child grow and learn from incentives and consequences.
So what happens in a society where the stick in the scenario turns into a battering ram?
When the penalty for an action so mutilates the life of an offender, the entire premise of punishment as a consequence is lost. No longer are we trying to steer the person back to the folds of acceptable society – the goal of the battering ram is to annihilate the offender.
When a youth of twenty years goes to prison for the next ten, on a bait and switch ‘attempted’ crime – you are not punishing him.
When a married man with a wife and children goes to prison for life on an attempted, police created crime – leaving his wife and children homeless. You are not punishing him.
When a young man is sentenced to life probation for a ‘thought crime’ – you are not trying to keep the community safe, or reform this mans supposed insidious nature.
When a man imprisoned for a thought crime needs to convince a board that he is rehabilitated, or he can be kept for life – that is not a punishment.
None of the proactive police sting consequences occurring in the state of WA are punishment.
It is a business – pure and simple.
A punishment, with the intent to safeguard the greater population, would be mandatory counseling.
A punishment hoping to keep society’s and families in tact would be supervision until a pre defined length of acceptable behavior has occurred.
Prison, like a beating, is meant to be a last choice – not a first. There is no common sense to any thought crime – especially one police induced, manipulated, and coerced – that should result in a prison sentence, probation, and registration for any person who has been law abiding their whole lives.
We don’t need a Battering Ram. We need common sense.