The Lockdown Has Shown Us We Need to Rethink the Judiciary System
We are all criminals. Or at least, we’re living the lives of criminals. Locked in our homes, forbidden to go out. What’s the difference between you and someone on house arrest, really?
At the moment, there is none.
This unprecedented social experiment that the pandemic lockdown is enabled psychologists to find out how quarantine influenced our psyche. As such, it has been shown that lockdowns increased suicide rates, intensified depression, fostered loneliness, and worsened pretty much every mental health condition that exists.
Now that we know how dangerous lockdowns are, it seems reasonable to plan on avoiding them in the future.
Unfortunately, lockdowns are not exceptional in society. They rule the judicial system’s punishment.
Criminals Are in Constant Lockdown
This quarantine enabled us, simple citizens, to experience a taste of what it’s like to live in prison. A taste, because while we were confined in our comfortable homes, criminals, them, are confined in overpopulated prisons where violence, insalubrity, and fight for survival are constant.
Some live in this hell for decades.
Can we reasonably expect them to get out of prison and simply go back to their lives? No, we cannot.
It has been shown systemically that incarceration did not help criminals out of violence – it pushed them further in. And it is easy to understand why.
Being locked brings out the worst of human behavior. Our kindness erodes. Our patience decreases. Anxiety rises. We think of what is outside. We want to leave. After all, we were born nomadic. Traveling is in our genes.
Moving freely is what gets us up in the morning. Why would you get out of your bed if there is no place to go to?
Criminals Should Be Healed, Not Punished
Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist. He is famous for having taken hundreds of thousands of brain MRIs across various populations.
In almost all cases, behavioral disorders, such as criminality, always appeared on the scan.
The insight it gave us was that criminals didn’t act the way they did because that was who they were. They acted this way because they were in fact, sick. Mentally sick.
In various talks he gave, Amen recalls his own experience working with his troubled patients. After long years of therapy, he managed to help heal hundreds of patients, who went from being depressed or unable to control irrational behaviors, to leading a normal and happy life.
Lockdowns Do Not Help
The quarantine has shown how vulnerable humans beings are when their autonomy is suppressed. Cut off from freedom, our cognitive functions tend to go off the rails. Depression, anger, and anxiety rise.
I used to care little for criminals. If you steal, hurt or murder, I used to think you were better locked up where you could do no harm. I used to think criminals belonged in prisons.
Having been locked down for several months now, I have tasted the inhumanity that living in a confined space is like.
I don’t think anyone should be treated that way. Especially in a place as violent as a prison.
The Bottom Line
Being locked worsens mental health and kills any remaining of joy, happiness, and good there is in people. When we put mentally ill people such as criminals in prisons, we can’t hope for them to heal, think of what they have done, and get out of there in a better state than when they came in.
The pandemic lockdown has shown how quarantines impacted mental health negatively. By locking up those who are sick, we will only worsen their conditions.
The lockdown has shown us how prisons are not the answer to violence. As sane as they can be, anyone entering a confinement situation will not get out of there better, but much worse.
It is therefore time we rethink the way we treat criminals, and how we can improve their condition, instead of making it worse.
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