Vengeance is Mine……………………..
A never acknowledged but nevertheless integral part of our society is the whole concept of vengeance.
Hurt the one who hurt you as badly and, if possible, worse than he hurt you.
This concept seldom finds public expression.
It is an ugly and asocial behaviour trait.
A person will not admit that he had done something for revenge, for vengeance as this is an ugly, anti social and somehow fundamentally wrong and inherently evil.
The Bible teaches us that God has said “Vengeance is mine….”
So, theoretically at least, we are supposed to leave vengeance, revenge, payback to God.
Because vengeance et al always, always has unintended consequence.
Having said all of this there is one area of our society where vengeance has a very public, acceptable even honourable face.
It is in our criminal justice system and more particularly in our jails.
We must punish wrongdoers and evil men and women.
Everybody, even the criminals will agree with this.
There are, very definitely people who should be removed from society.
People beyond redemption, people for whom no hope of redemption or rehabilitation exists or ever will exist even in the very best of circumstances.
People who no civilised society can tolerate.
Fundamentally evil people.
But there are also people who stumble into crime for whatever reason; misguided youngsters who fall victim to the drug plague and commit crime to feed their habit; people who are desperate and steal to feed their family.
Our publicly acceptable love affair with vengeance throws all of these people into one system.
They say “Look at the level of crime, these people are animals, treat them like animals.
We have a right to be protected from them….”
And they are half right. They do have a right to be protected from those people who are animals.
But what about those that are not animals, those who have made a mistake?
The one who makes a mistake could be their son or daughter.
What about the uneducated man who cannot get a job but must feed his family?
What about the drug addict who is himself, after all, also a victim of crime?
Once a person hits the jail system he is thrown into the system with no screening, no differentiation of crime, no protection of any sort at all.
He is at the mercy of jail system.
The jail system is worse than you can ever imagine, no matter how many episodes of “Jail Break” you have watched or how many books you have read.
One well known educator working in our jail system describes jail as being “worse than death”.
In jail you die a little every day.
The part of you that makes you a decent normal person dies, piece by piece, every day and you don’t even know it.
For self protection you become hardened, emotionless, and robotic.
Emotion of the sort expressed in normal society does not exist in jail.
Emotion in jail is weakness and weakness in jail is deadly to your survival.
All that is expressed in jail is emotions of violence, revenge against society.
People who come into jail as being normal, those who made a mistake are converted into hardened, emotionless individuals with no compassion for any person.
Petty criminals are turned into hardened criminals.
People who have been in jail have no fear of consequence and it is fear of consequence that causes people to adhere to the rules of society.
So our system is designed for revenge not rehabilitation.
The purpose of the systems may seem to be the rehabilitation of offenders but it only serves to provide society with a means to obtain legal, acceptable payback.
This situation has consequences.
Violence breeds violence, revenge breeds more revenge, humiliation breeds the need to humiliate others.
And so on and on and on.
The truly viscous circle.
When a person is eventually release from the caring hands of the system he has turned from a person who may only have made one mistake into a truly hardened, cold hearted criminal.
Well done the system.
When people complain about the crime levels, the degree of violence present in the crimes committed do they realise that it is the system that they designed to combat crime and punish offenders that is responsible for the degree and type of crime we are experiencing?
No, of course not.
This is not possible.
Not possible but true.
This is why we should leave vengeance to God.
We should design a system based on proper intervention and rehabilitation.
We should acknowledge that no man is beyond redemption, beyond rehabilitation.
Just as fairly innocent young men become hardened criminals in jail, so can hardened criminals can be helped with the correct intervention.
The problem is that no programs of intervention exist in our jails.
The system is in crises because of the overcrowded situation, poor staff morale, staff shortages in the critical areas of rehabilitative services and poor pay levels.
The system concentrates on punishment and security and at the end of the day the system produces what it was never designed to produce.
I am sure that this was not the original intention, but as we know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
And we are on the road to hell.
Vengeance is mine saith the Lord……………………………………………..