Editorial: On punishment and reformation

POSTED: 09/12/11 12:35 PM

Skeptics may see Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Rhoda Arrindell’s offer of study financing to an inmate and the request for prisoners to have accredited courses as creating incentives for going to prisons. We immediately disagree with them especially since the modern prison has become a space, not just for punishment, but also for reformation.

The wisdom of reforming prisoners is obvious. The more of them that return to society and stay out of crime, the more the country has access to human capital for its labor force. That will then rebound into more people paying taxes and consuming, which feeds the business community. Those are benefits that we all want as it creates more jobs and reduces the need to pay taxes so that people, in this case, simply sit in prisons.

Reform is also the obvious choice when one considers that it takes between 250 and 300 guilders to house, feed and guard each prisoner. No sane or responsible person wants to continue to pay that price over and over again. Instead they’d work hard to find a solution. The points made by the minister and inmate association are thus starting points.

What should not be forgotten though is that while we must reform people who end up in prison, the best investment we can make is to ensure that they do not end up there at all. That will take each of us recognizing what is truly acceptable and instilling the necessary values in the next generation. It is impossible that they will develop values if they are not given some guidance.


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