While people have been discussing 'prisoner rehabilitation' and Rachaelle Namana over the last day or so, I've kept hearing the phrase "repaying their debt to society." Prisoners, people keep saying, need to to "repay their debt to society." What on earth are they talking about? What "debt to society" are they talking about?
Let me tell you, there is no "debt to society." None. 'Society' isn't the victim of crime -- people are. Individuals who have been the victims of crime are those to whom a debt needs to be repaid, not society. But that debt never is repaid, is it, especially not as that flawed idea of a 'debt to society' dominates.
There is no such thing as a 'debt to society' that prisoners must repay, there is only the debt to those they offended against -- the long forgotten victims of crime. Repaying the victims (where possible) should be amongst the first things considered in sentencing -- as a basic principle it should be ensured that no offender achieves any value by virtue of their crime, and (where possible) no victim loses it.
And when there is no real victim, then there is of course no real crime.
TAGS: Law, Victimless Crimes