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CONNOTATIONS ABOUT AMERICA'S PENAL SYSTEM

Nations have the right to elect whatever penal system they want. They can choose, through a wide range, from reinsert the criminals into society and keeping away dangerous individuals, putting them apart from the honourable citizens.

Actually, the attitudes about criminal behavior differ widely, depending on what country one is refering to. In Japan, for instance, when a person is convicted of a crime it is seen as a failure of society to provide the proper nurturing environment and mold that person into being a productive one. Upon incarceration, extensive steps are taken to foster the rehabilitation of that person. On the other hand, in the U.S. it is seen as a shortcoming of the individual who commits a crime and years of punishment is the best answer.

Why is a definite system chosen and others not? There are several hypotheses. One of them is that citizens themselves do not rely on each other. And other might be that early leaders, these belonging to a privileged caste, distrust the remaining people.

The following historical connotations are summarized to try to prove that America's penal system is supported by the first of the above theories.

1) America could have been colonized as a penal experiment. England emptied its jails of its murderers, rapists, prostitutes, and thieves, placed them aboard ships and sent them there to conquer the native people and colonize this land. America's first citizens were England's worst criminal outcasts. These first settlers were also composed of swashbuckling people, priests, and retired militaries.

2) After the period of colonization was completed, it was found that a spirit of lawlessness continued to prevail. Even after accomplishing the task of gaining a foothold in this land, the founding fathers and mothers still continued to ply their illicit trades. Moral factions in the colonies decided that jails had to be built to punish offenders.

3) The first jail in America to house felons was the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia. It was built in 1790 by Quakers. During their imprisonment, prisoners received intensive religious instruction and endured harsh physical labor to build their work ethic. They also observed complete silence. There was no socializing between prisoners, and often brutal disciplinary measures were used to ensure their silence.

4) America's criminal justice system seems not to be based upon justice or fair play, but in Talion's law, as occurred in the past. What the prosecutor seeks is that initial conviction, because he knows that the appeal process will drag on for years. Whether one of the citizens is innocent or guilty, we must recognize that when he enters the courtroom he has entered a bloody arena. Thus, it is a ruse to frighten you, as alleged criminal, into accepting a plea agreement for something that the prosecutor would be hard pressed to fairly prove against you anyway.

5) Now we need a syllogism: Democracy is good; democracy is a real fact in America; through many years the penal system (which includes capital punishments) has been in practice in America; death penalty is widely accepted by Americans. Consequently, it only remains to say that is improbable that so many people are wrong, and thus the first hypothesis has been proved right.

"One million flies cannot be wrong. So, eat bullshit." (Plato)

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