Once we’re labelled a certain way, are we perceived in that way for life?
Once someone is deemed a sex offender, are they always a sex offender?
If the feeling is that sex offendersÂ aren’t capable of changing and they shouldn’t be ‘let loose’; should they ever be released?
It can be argued that the whole point of ‘doing the time’ is to be punished, change, andÂ conform to the norms and values that are desired by society.
The criminal is deprived of theirÂ freedom, made to do certain tasks and put in anÂ unpleasant situation to show them that their actions were unacceptable. The ‘deal’ is that they change, display good behaviour, and their freedom will be returned. They will thenÂ have a chance to be the model citizen that they had deviated from.
Reform doesn’t work for everyone. Some prisoners are detained for longer because the board isn’t convinced that they are no longer a danger to society. Others receive a sentence which hugely reduces their chance of being released.
So going back to the original example…Should sex offenders ever be released? If they are released should they be put on a register and monitored? Does that imply thatÂ those who approved their release can’t be trusted? Does it assume that they may have made a mistake, which may result in the offender abusing someone again?
Does the basis of the current system assume that convicted offenders can’t change and they will revert to the behaviour which got them imprisoned in the first place?
If they have gone through a process which resulted in officials agreeing that they can and should be discharged; should they need to convince society that they’ve changed?
Or will as ex-prisoners, be they sex offenders, robbers, or fraudsters continue to serve time although they are no longer in prison?
Right now it seems that people are tried and released or tried and convicted. The latter go through a process of reform, and if released, they enter society with a mark that doesn’t disappear. A mark that prevents employers wanting to take a chance on them, a mark that prevents them being housed, a mark that may mean they’re isolated and disowned by their friends and family. A mark that means they aren’t trusted, they aren’t ‘free’ and that they’re still ‘doing time’; just in a different way.
What do you think?
Does the current system work?
Is it fair?
Is there another way?