Back in the early days of our marriage, we had a cat named Willie hanging around the house with us. Now Willie, like many a cat, had a way of roaming just wherever he took a mind to roam. I used to tell him not to walk around on the kitchen countertops, but did he listen? No sir.
He kept that up until the day his paws were right on top of the gas stove. If you have a gas stove, you know there is that one hot spot up between the burners where the pilot light makes it all warm. Old Willie stood there for a second, and then he must have felt his paws getting singed, and he shot up in the air about a foot, jumping down to the floor with eight (8) lives intact.
And he never walked around on the counters again.
I bring this up because of the ongoing debate about people being put in jail. I happen to be for it. One thing that Baltimore tv watchers can count on is turning on the news and seeing that some dude whose criminal record dates back to when Willie was a kitten has been arrested again for some sort of mayhem. Inevitably, the reporter will stand up before the camera outside a courthouse, intoning into the mic that the "suspect" who was identified by 27 eyewitnesses, the smoking gun in his jacket, and a surveillance video of such remarkable definition that we could tell the date on a dime in his pocket was out on bail from an arrest for multiple homicides three months ago. Not only the jails and courtrooms, but also the streets of our fair city are fairly teeming with crooks and criminals.
Putting these people in jail would serve two purposes:
a) (the lesser) It would teach them a lesson, that for their criminal actions there is an equal and opposite reaction. This introduction to Newtonian logic might remind them of the gravity of their deeds, as it were. Just like Willie, the next time they went to do something they had been cautioned not to do, they would remember the unpleasant consequences of disobedience.
b) (the more important) While they are in the Ironbar Hilton, they will not be able to rob, rape, maim or murder citizens who are out here because they committed no crimes. The day-to-day of the city will be safe from their depredation.
I have many times argued this point with sociologists who feel that it's cruel to put a person in jail "just because socioeconomic conditions beyond their control led them a life of crime." It drives them crazy when I agree with their theory and then point out that the errant course of the great steamship of a miscreant can be turned around by a short course of penitence.
Which is best conducted in a penitentiary!