Some Questions We Must Ask Before Caging Our Fellow Human Beings
Thinking about our collective addiction to incarceration, particularly of black and brown people, and our continued use of it as a primary and often times only means of accountability for criminal behavior. We collectively should see the caging of other humans as an extreme, unusual and extraordinary measure, an exception rather than the norm.
Before we incarcerate a fellow human being, we must ask ourselves the following questions:
What collective failures of ours resulted in or spurred this crime?
Should this individual be solely held to account or should we all share in carrying the consequences of the crime?
Did we as a community fulfill the basic needs of this person including housing, healthcare and education?
Did we as a community do everything humanly possible, including, but not limited to, attempting to heal and remedy the traumas that this behavior may be manifesting from, to prevent this crime?
Did we explore and exhaust every possible alternative to incarceration while still ensuring community safety and promoting the rehabilitation this individual?
Is there a definitive purpose to incarcerating this human beyond retribution?
Is the sentence narrowly tailored to appropriately address the unique needs of the offender, community safety concerns and the specific harm inflicted on the victims?
What impact will locking this person up have on their families, mental health, physical health, housing and employment?
Will our means and methods of incarceration result in them being better off and more rehabilitated than when they went in?