Diversion Programs – (Treat, Educate, Sober Up ) or Imprison
The conservative approach to law and order seems to be to lock everyone up who is fit to stand trial and has committed a crime. No matter what it costs. Which isn’t very money conscious.
Unless you’re looking for slave labour in a private prison?
The most liberal view is that people who come from good communities, that have support and treatment options available don’t produce people who end up in jail. But they do, they just have the advantage of a good lawyer. Because they’re middle class or rich.
And those are the thoughts before you consider if the person is actually mentally well or mature (within adult behaviours and mental acuity). If at the time they committed the crime they understood what they were doing and the full weight of the ramifications of their actions.
If their circumstance caused or contributed to their crime, if they were coerced by their associates, or if they were unwell needs to be considered. The stresses might be different in the life of wealth or poverty, but there are still stressors, addictions and other mental health issues. Rich parents might have the means to treat some of the issues or at least manage them though. And here is that good lawyer again.
The cost of the crime, and the cost to society are separable factors.
But whatever the individual is going thru, society still has the group of associates to deal with, who may have coerced this person to act as they did. Incarcerating one doesn’t resolve the group’s issues. Does it?
If you look at the cost to society, sending one to jail for the crime of the group doesn’t solve anything. And it costs unending funds.
Whereas if you send the one thru a diversion program, and keep them away from the group, you’re more likely not to see this particular person in prison again. And they will not be in congregant care as long. Therefore not costing society as much.
If managed properly, they are no longer a threat to society.
But society is formed of people. And the victim’s families may want to see the person punished, rather than just removed from their area for a little.
So is diversion an adequate response to their needs?
It depends on the weight of the crime: rape, murder or terrorism or something else. And whether this person acted alone, or was capable of completing the entire planning and execution by themselves. Because if they weren’t, then isn’t making them face all the anger and fear themselves just as much of a crime as the crime was? Does justice include scapegoating one person for the crimes of a group? In that case diversion might be the best option. Or even the only one.
When a community or a family is grieving though, they want heads to roll. In some countries, even literally. And diversion will then seem cruel to them.
So often the success of diversion is dependent on the context and community in which the crime took place. And TBH, cases of this weight shouldn’t be tried in the original community.
Otherwise they are looking for vengeance rather than justice. In that context, how do you get a fair hearing of the evidence?
It’s a tough discussion to have, even as just theory. Because too much emotion gets put into it.
But when you consider that justice is supposed to include fairness and mercy, then it’s one that needs to be had.
Otherwise you keep piling up bodies in the prison system who are there wrongly or too long, considering their actual culpability. And cost you a fortune in taxes to keep.