Teaching is supposed to be about recognizing and appreciating other viewpoints, yeah yeah yeah. To some extent, I'm all about that. I like to encourage my little monsters to think critically and analytically, and to propose alternatives to systems in our country that aren't working. It's the crux of teaching social justice, I think.
But then what do you do when their opinion is just WACK?
JJ is a shock-and-awe type of kid. So it should not have surprised me when I was teaching alternatives to incarceration/restorative justice today and the following dialogue occurred.
I was explaining how investing money and resources into rehabilitation would benefit taxpayers financially.
JJ: I don't wanna spend money on them. They committed a crime. They should be treated like dogs. (Important to note that I teach children of incarcerated parents--JJ's dad has been in jail and her mother is an addict).
me: I understand your point of view. But if we don't do anything to help, or rehabilitate these people after they've committed their crimes, then statistics show that when they are released, they will just commit the same crimes again. And then we're spending even more money on them.
JJ: That's why I believe we should euthanize them.
me: Come again?
JJ: We should just euthanize them.
me: Huh. So you believe we should just kill all people who commit crimes?
JJ: Yep. Why should they get free services when people who haven't committed crimes don't?
me: People who haven't committed crimes do get free services. Public health clinics, government assistance, disability, etc. See, most people who commit crimes are empty (I draw a twinkie-like shape on the board that is empty/uncolored). Most of them have been damaged due to abuse, neglect, overexposure to crime. I believe it is our job as a society to help fix them. They deserve to be whole. So if instead of throwing them in jail or prison, where they will be brutalized and come out even more likely to commit crimes, we treat them with rehabilitation, therapy, counseling, training, etc.? Then, upon release, they are far more likely to become contributing members of society (I draw a twinkie-like shape on the board that has been colored in: full).
JJ: That doesn't work.
me: Actually, empirical data shows that recidivism rates plummet when an inmate has completed a rehabilitative/therapeutic program while incarcerated. If we give them the tools to address the harm that they have caused, learn to speak an emotional language, and give them the training necessary to be hirable members of society, then a vast number of them, according to statistics, succeed without returning to prison. As of now, over 60% of people who are released from prison come right back after their release. Which means we're spending 30K per year on these people indefinitely. If we'd just invest in rehabilitative programs for two years, we could eliminate that cost.
JJ: Why is it 30K?
me: Housing, food, guards--
JJ: See they don't deserve all that. They are in prison!
me: They don't deserve food?
me: Well, JJ, that's unrealistic. Do you believe we should starve people to death who have committed crimes? What about Three Strikes inmates who are in for theft/robbery/assualt?
JJ: All it would take is one bullet.
Ay yay yay. I don't know what to do with this one! I'm used to fostering different viewpoints but daaaaaamn. This girl's talkin' some wacked out dystopian novel shit. Not really sure how to handle her. Gonna have to ponder this one for a while. Or maybe figure out how to inject her with a dose of empathy. ;)
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