The belief that children must be punished to learn better behaviors is illogical. Children learn to roll, crawl, walk, talk, read, and other complex behaviors without a need for punishment. Why, then, wouldn’t the same gentle guidance, support, and awareness of developmental capabilities that parents employ to help their little ones learn those complex skills also work to help them learn to pet the cat gently and draw on paper instead of walls?
― L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages
Justice requires not only the ceasing and desisting of injustice but also requires either punishment or reparation for injuries and damages inflicted for prior wrongdoing. The essence of justice is the redistribution of gains earned through the perpetration of injustice. If restitution is not made and reparations not instituted to compensate for prior injustices, those injustices are in effect rewarded. And the benefits such rewards conferred on the perpetrators of injustice will continue to “draw interest,” to be reinvested, and to be passed on to their children, who will use their inherited advantages to continue to exploit the children of the victims of the injustices of their ancestors. Consequently, injustice and inequality will be maintained across the generations as will their deleterious social, economic, and political outcomes.
― Amos Wilson
They took my books
because my message was love.
They took my pen
because my words were love.
Then they took my voice
because my song was love.
Soon they’ll take myself
so nothing remains.
But they don’t know that when I’m gone
my love will stay.
Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.
Some jails in the US have attempted to reinstate the chain gang. Do you think this is a viable option?
Here is a trailer for Xackery Irving’s American Chain Gangs. I recommend watching the film to see the complexity of the situation and the dangers we face as a society.
Jails in Alabama and Arizona resurrected the chain gang at the end of the 20th century. Although it is not exactly the same practice that was so widespread and cruel that it became taboo fifty years earlier, it still has unresolved issues and terrible connotations. Alabama has dropped their program because of lawsuits over human rights. Arizona continues it.
Years ago, to be on a chain gang meant that you stayed chained to your neighbors until your sentence was over or you died. If you needed to relieve yourself, if you were sick or sleeping, you remained chained. It was also associated with the last vestiges of slavery, as many chain gangs were comprised of African Americans, escaped slaves or free men that were often there on trumped up charges or out of self-defense.
Today the chains are put on when prisoners go on work detail, and they can be removed in certain situations. No one can say that the conditions are comparable, but what are the effects of the practice? What marks does it leave on prisoners, on guards, and on society?