This is in reference to the Star News “Community” article on Feb. 25, titled “Litigator, Judge Calls It A Career.” In the article, 10th District Court Judge Karla F. Hancock suggests her feelings towards prison sentencing to the writer of the article Paul Rignell that “she is also saddened, the judge suggested, whenever she has had to sentence someone to prison out of law and responsibility to the public welfare.” (Her words here.) “‘I’ve never taken any pleasure in sending someone to prison,’ she said. ‘Particularly for young offenders, there’s not a lot of good to come out of prison.’”
There is nothing wrong with Judge Hancock empathizing with young (or any) criminal offenders about to receive a prison or jail sentence. But remember: By the time most of these miscreants have ended up in front of Judge Hancock’s bench, they have had ample opportunity to change their ways and to have avoided an opportunity for prison time but for the fact that they have chosen to be where they are. Judge Hancock is correct. “… there’s not a lot of good to come out of prison.”
But, guess what? Prisons were not built to rehabilitate criminals, they were built to lock up and put away those amongst us who have chosen to repeatedly break the law and who make it a profession to prey upon decent, law-abiding society. So there is a good part of sending criminals to prison.
The purpose of prisons is to take habitual and career criminals out of circulation. Therefore, I believe it is misplaced concern on the part of Judge Hancock to be “saddened” any time she has had to send (a usually well-deserving) criminal to prison. I think that by the time most miscreants have reached her bench they have more than earned their prison time and our society is better off by their removal from it. Judge Hancock is to be congratulated for any and all the times she has protected society by sending deserving criminals to prison (or jail). That is what the criminal justice system was originally created for.
A major and current flaw in our present criminal justice system seems to be judges who view prisons as a means to rehabilitate those who are sent there instead of viewing prison time as what it is actually intended to be: a punishment and a means to remove from society those who prey upon it. If I were Judge Hancock, I don’t think I would anguish overly long about those that she has had to lock up. In so doing she has done us all a great service.
And for those who still wring their hands over the “poor criminal,” don’t worry. With the present state of our criminal justice system that same criminal will be released again upon society in a matter of months (or a few years) and be right back preying upon honest citizens. Prison does not usually rehabilitate career criminals. They don’t think like normal society. They see nothing wrong in what they do.
So, Judge Hancock, don’t feel bad for doing your job. No bleeding heart and no tears here. — John Bolduc, Elk River