Monday, October 25, 2010

Criminal Justice?

Reading an article from the Arizona Republic today about a man set to be executed tomorrow. Executions hit home for me. I saw the execution of my siblings' murderer February 9, 1996 in Texas. During that time, as happens when anyone faces the death chamber, arguments, opinions & articles surface. This one was no different.

What was different was the ultimate clarity of where the system truly fails - juvenile detention centers, rehab centers, adoption services, foster family homes. These organizations, systems & structures may be the true root of criminal activity leading to long-term incarceration, habitual criminal acts, acting out, and ultimately death sentences & execution. Not the systems themselves, the people involved - the "helpers".

Whether you're for or against the death penalty, you probably recognize the trauma associated with murder & other criminal acts- for all sides - victims & perpetrators. That's our common ground - seeing justice or injustice played out in individuals' lives - victims, survivors or perpetrators, criminals.

This particular man, Landrigan, had an extensive rap sheet long before his 2nd act of murder which landed him on death row. The article is explicit about that. It also revealed he endured several hardships - abandoned by both mother, father before he turned 1 years old, drug & alcohol abuse by both parents & himself, etc.

Anti-death penalty advocates usually tout a death row inmate's background, family history when arguing their case. They feel a person's background is more important than the crimes committed & judgment given by 12 peers for that crime. That's usually the argument. Some anti-execution & pro-rehabilitation folks judge the criminal justice system:  feeling its outdated, antiquated, too harsh, etc. These folks appear to be concerned for the individual criminal. But not so fast! Appearances can be deceiving. Where were these folks when he really needed them? When we all needed them - before Landrigan got out of control & killed a 2nd time?

While reading about Landrigan's past, one thing struck me. The "Oliver Twist" theme surrounding his past history assumes his family past created his crimes. What if that isn't true? What if it was all the "helpers" - detention centers, churches, counselors, drug & alcohol rehab centers? What if they are truly to blame here? What if these organizations hanging a shingle "we help" are really hurting & completely unqualified to rehabilitate an individual with abandonment, drug & alcohol problems?

I know someone who was abandoned as a child. This person's parents were drug & alcohol users. But this person did NOT participate in the "systems" described here. This person owns a business, has a family, is caring & never got into deep trouble with the law. To our media, he may seem the exception. But what if he isn't? What if people like him simply choose NOT to dwell on their past obstacles, find their own way despite the "helpers", forging ahead & instead of back.

When working with domestic violence survivors, rape victims years ago, it amazed me how inept some therapists were at helping that person move on. Drudging up past pains to heal them is a great idea. But what if that practitioner only knows how to drudge & doesn't know how to heal what surfaces? Then you've got chaos on your hands. People walking around with open wounds without psychological, spiritual Neosporin.

This article might have intended for us to look at this man's past & feel sorrow & act to oppose his execution tomorrow. For me, it revealed a dark under-belly of our society few notice. What may be touted as "help" may ultimately harm & hurt - not just one person, but us all.

Our current Age of Transformation speaks about revealing truths, shining a bright light on the way humanity has lived in this world, on this planet - our beliefs, structures, societies, sciences, philosophies, etc. Based on ancient prophecies across continents, cultures - it's a time to "question everything" & redefine how we move, act, and perceive reality. What are you seeing differently? What clarity have you witnessed?

Wishing you blessings & light as you travel your Sacred Path -
Robin Amanda Kelley
Sedona Spirit
(928) 451-5107