Crime and Punishment

The NYTimes magazine has an interesting article Sentencing by the Numbers on how Virginia is adjusting jail sentences according to the probability of recidivism by classifying the offender according to a 71-point scale of risk assessment: “Of the felons who scored at or below the 35-point cutoff, 12 percent committed new crimes, compared with more than 38 percent for those who scored higher.” By using probation or house arrest for those scoring low, Virginia has nearly halted the growth in prison population, but this has upset “those who think punishment should reflect blameworthiness“.

Imprisonment has several simultaneous purposes: removing the risk to society, rehabilitation and revenge; here, we see the clash between the first and the third. I never understood how Christians could be so vengeful, given that God has reserved that right for himself (Leviticus 19:18.)

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