Such an approach would have a number of benefits. First, you would get your TV back. The victim should always be the law's primary concern. Second, forcing me to acknowledge that I have wronged a person and not the state (which is a non-person) can help change my view of other people's property. Third, it would save taxpayers the cost of incarcerating me. And, fourth, making me pay the person I have wronged is a far better and more proven method for changing my life and behavior than putting me in prison where statistics show I am more likely to become a better criminal than a better citizen.
If the objective of criminal laws is to reduce crime, the laws currently on the books are clearly not achieving it. The corporate monsters who rob stockholders and employees of their jobs and careers shouldn't go to jail. They should be forced to work to pay off as much as they possibly can to those they have wronged. That is redemptive for them, and it is restorative to the victims who lost their retirement and their paychecks to greed.
Republicans, who were behind many of these "tough on crime" laws, have an opportunity to fight crime in ways that will actually work and save the taxpayers lots of money. That is supposed to be the Republican way. It is certainly the only way that will succeed.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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