In a previous article we had referred to the negative effects of the justice system in South Africa.
Here in South Africa we are 'hard on soft crime', and 'soft on hard crime'.
We incarcerate non-violent law offenders with the worst of the violent and propagate a downward spiral in our society.
Prison space is premium space and the parole system has become a mechanism for freeing up prison space instead of genuine rewarding of rehabilitation.
Violent criminals secure undeserved early release through this as well.
We have mimicked the ‘broken window theory’ of New York without the full context within which this zero tolerance was practiced in the resource rich USA.
Zero Tolerance and the ‘broken window theory’ do not necessarily mean that we should cram all law offenders together in the scarce resource that is our prison space!
Alternative sentencing and ankle bracelets for the non-violent are not only viable but also cost effective.
It costs more to keep a non-violent law offender in prison than it does to house arrest or area arrest via GPS.
The recent murder of Rosina Ferman in Umkomaas is but one of the many examples of violent crime in South Africa.
She was an immigrant from Post Second World War Europe, and spent most of her adult life in this country.
In the land of her birth violence of this nature is rare even though the population totals compare almost to the million.
In her late seventies, she should have been afforded the dignity of living in safety for her remaining days.
Instead she was murdered in the home she had lived in since the 1960s.
But every day we have more examples of these tragedies.
As we said in our earlier article, if the justice system were a bridge or road it would have been swept away long ago by minor floods.
Engineers can be thankful that they design and build in the real world as they can see the evidence of their work.
Human Scientists, including criminologists, have less visibility of the failure of their theories.
The idea of alternative sentencing is not new and municipalities would be channels that could administer alternative sentencing for the positive good of the community and the rehabilitation of the offender.
The technology for house arrest or area arrest is also not new.
Neither is it expensive relative to the cost of incarceration.
We need to observe the 80/20 Rule and focus 80% of our justice resources to deal with the 20% of crime that destroys lives.
For sustainability, the violent need to be removed from society for long periods.
For sustainability, the non-violent need to be dealt with in a different and more appropriate manner.
The non violent are mostly just people in bad places in the randomness of Life's dishing out of fortune/misfortune - those of us who may have got much of it right should remain humble and non self-righteous and thank our lucky stars! Especially if we are religious in which case we have been Mercifully spared.
Their breadwinning capacities should preferably not be impeded so that they can continue providing for their families and pay their municipal bills – municipalities after all will always be the last of the creditors to be paid.
The choice to would be criminals should be beyond doubt – do violence and the law, freed from the mindset that is currently paralysing it, will come down heavily on you and you will spend a very long time away without soft inmates around you to prey upon.
Green is not just environmental sustainability – it encompasses everything, holistically.