2015-08-03

If I were Prime Minister for one day, what would I do?


If I were Prime Minister for one day, what would I do? What can I possibly do that I will be remembered for forever? I would declare an amnesty for sexual offenders prior year 2000.


Amnesties are controversial at least. It has to be thought through and it can backfire. Only historians are able to tell in hindsight if an amnesty was any good. This makes it such a risky operation that amnesties are rarely used today. Most amnesties were declared, when wars ended and war crimes had to be forgiven. Others were used to deal with an unwanted situation. The one I have in mind is no different.


Why would you declare an amnesty? Prisons are rapidly filling up with older men, punishment is dealt out for historical crimes according to today's standards and morales. Those old men  have broken the law. And breaking the law shall be punished. However, this shall be done in due time. A swift reaction to crime is what will deter crime in the first place. Moreover, punishing criminals comes at a cost. Not only is the court affaire very costly, so is the execution of penalties. Roughly each prisoner requires a full time equivalent. Housing costs, care and equipment add to that salary. Hence, a sentence given today is a huge investment into a rehabilitated returning citizen.

Isn't it declaring defeat? Yeah, probably. Let's face it, the situation is bad enough - so bad that it became an open secret. Admitting that the current actions have failed doesn't make it worse. However, it makes us realize that things went wrong. Hence, admitting defeat is the first step towards improvement. Correcting past mistakes keeps us occupied and we will neglect more important and pressing issues. We also use money which we need at other places.


So, you condone past offenses, right? Well, condone is the wrong word. Condoning some actions means that we accept that behavior, approve or sanction it. Amnesty is not about condoning, but about deliberately overlook certain actions.


So, why would you deliberately overlook past offenses? This has to do with priorities. We can not have a situation, where people are burglered in their own homes without police intervening, just because they are occupied with an archeological excavation. We live in the current and the main task of the police is to ensure peace and order. The police has to deal with today's challenges.


But don't you think of the victims? The victims of historical child sexual abuses are adults by now. A punishment for historical offenses will bring no relief and will have no therapeutic value. Moreover, victims and their relatives are more concerned with the prevention of future crime. If you look around, victims are engaging themselves so that nobody else will experience what they had to endure. So even victims will support an amnesty if it means prioritizing future crime prevention. There are children today that need protection and care.


How about the offenders, don't they deserve punishment? Do you really think that this amnesty will encourage anyone to commit an offense? This amnesty is about past offenses, not future ones. An amnesty will not cause pain, like a harsh prison sentence does. But the purpose of a harsh prison sentence is to rehabilitate the inmate. If that can be done at a lesser cost, then society will benefit from it. This amnesty will bring release and a relief to those imprisoned. They are given a chance, they likely will not get again. I can assure you that the rehabilitating effect of this amnesty is of greater impact than any harsh prison program.

As I said, those affected by this amnesty will not experience another one in their life time. I can guarantee that every politician will oppose this amnesty and it will kill any career by supporting it. This will drive home the point that such an amnesty will not happen again. I think those on the receiving end of mercy would at least think twice before reoffending. The recidivism rate will drop dramatically. One could reason that this amnesty prevents some future crimes. Isn't that great?


What does it cost us? That is the beauty of it. Any other action that I can think of (which will bring me fame) will cost us bucketloads of money. No this amnesty would reduce prison population, clear desks, clear court rooms. This room is badly needed for the queue of cases that have been delayed. If I were a criminal, I would consider a career change.


As a Prime Minister I could declare such an amnesty, because I would only be Prime Minister for one day.

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