On Crime and Punishment

Some thoughts on extreme views on crime and punishment

Alan Simpson
3 min readMay 30


A cell at Alcatraz Photo by author

Revisiting some of my older. unpublished on Medium work as I have an unexpected morning off. Here is an old writing on crime and punishment.

I’ve written several times on my WordPress blog about the concept of prison and rehabilitation. I wrote about it in the context of Michael Vick, John Hinckley, and others.

I am a believer in the idea that we have to believe in rehabilitation. We have to be able to forgive people and give them a second chance in life. There are very few crimes I would consider unforgivable.

The justice system is flawed and sometimes corrupt as is any system that is run by humans(so, all of them). The number of people who have been wrongly convicted is way too high for me to ever support the death penalty again. Many people disagree with me.

Every time there is a news article about someone being released from prison there is an outcry from the public.

How could we possibly let this person out of prison? They can’t possibly be rehabilitated!

They should rot in prison!

They should have been executed!

Now, if this is the victim or the victim’s family, I completely understand this attitude. What I don’t understand is this attitude from people who know nothing about the case except what they read in the paper. They hear someone will be released from prison and, knowing nothing about the case, yell and scream and post comments about how terrible it is. It doesn’t matter how long they have been in prison.

Many people believe that prison means you are locked away forever. That you have no hope of rehabilitation and will commit another crime the minute you are released. If you happen to have been wrongly accused? Well, bad luck for you, but you likely became dangerous by living with all of the other criminals so you should stay behind bars as well.

Some people are happy if someone never sees prison. Someone is shot by the police during an arrest and people applaud it. We don’t need a trial. If someone is being arrested they are obviously a bad person and don’t deserve to live.



Alan Simpson

I am a semi-retired former librarian who writes about a variety of topics. I review TV shows. I review books. I write about what is happening around us.