LESSON 6 – AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

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Addressing Crime Before It Happens

The best way to improve the criminal justice system is by keeping people out of it. But before any attempt to prevent crime can be made, its causes and preconditions must be better understood. Judaism has long recognized the role of societal factors in the commission of crime: poverty and unemployment are significant, as are education, values, and personal character. This final lesson discusses the roots of criminality, several specific preventative policy proposals, and the various concerns associated with them.

In Crime and Consequence we explore 3000 years of Jewish wisdom concerning criminal convictions, sentencing, crime prevention, and rehabilitation. We challenge our thinking, pondering the application of Talmudic principles to real and complex, modern-day cases, and we get to the heart of questions such as:

  • Should we consider testimonies given in exchange for a reduced sentence as reliable evidence?
  • What is the goal of punishing criminals? Is it to gain retribution for the victim, keep criminals off the streets and safeguard from future crime, set an example and instill the fear of law, or to rehabilitate the criminal and reintroduce him to society?
  • Is life-without-parole a justifiable penalty? Is it within our right to sentence a man to death? When would these be warranted? Is there a better way?

In Crime and Consequence, we learn to discover and recover the humanity within criminals, we question practices that seem unethical and unfair, and we explore ways to prevent crime from ever taking place.

Crime and Consequence is for people who care deeply about humanity, are enraged at injustice, are fascinated by difficult-to-solve real-life scenarios, and are committed to seeing a system that is just and fair to all.