Chapter 27: Alliance Criminal Justice
14 February 1964
Speaker: Andre-Kael, Alliance Criminologist.
"Good morning. Let us first consider your own penal system. We must state here that we are unalterably opposed to capital punishment in any form or for any reason, as it represents a retention of barbarian ways and indicates an absolute indifference to the supreme value of human life.
[Note: time changes viewpoints. In a contact of 18 June 1989, a spokesman for the Korendians who identifies himself as ArKay, said this about his visit to the streets of New York City:
"As I also learned, what you call the 'law of the jungle' applies in the streets of the city. At one point I found myself the prey of eight young savages, their minds destroyed by the use of 'crack', intent on robbing me of whatever items of value I possessed.
"The weaponry they carried would indeed have stricken panic into the heart of a victim. They made cold jokes about how I was their tenth 'mark' of the night, and that perhaps I ought to be 'cut' as a memento of their record of achievement.
"I sensed not the merest trace of human compassion and decency in their thoughts. These eight young men were no more than predators in human form, and I found in my probing of their ruined brains no hope for recovery from the damage inflicted by their "habits".
"It then became only a matter of my survival, and although I as a Korendian have been taught to abhor violence, New York City gave me no alternative. They died instantly, without pain. For the rest of that evening, I prayed to God for mercy and walked on in sorrow."
Although they strongly believe in the principles spoken of in this contact, our world has indeed opened their eyes.]
"Now, your basic misconception is in calling loss of freedom by imprisonment 'punishment'. By this negative attitude, you only serve to make worse an already nasty situation. Here, any form of retention is strictly for rehabilitation, and to protect society until corrective measures can be taken.
"We are alarmed at the way you treat your criminals, caging them like vicious animals, and destroying whatever sense of human dignity they might have had left. We do not agree to this, but since you cannot equip yourselves to more efficiently handle criminals, I suppose that it will have to be tolerated for the present.
"We are also opposed to the Jury principle, leaving a man's very life at the hands of people who have absolutely no knowledge of the facts except for what they hear from 'witnesses' that could very well be fabricating their stories from start to finish. There is too much room for emotion and unreason to creep in to even consider the possibility of objectivity and true justice.
"We think that the trial system is a grand farce, and that very seldom if ever is there a truly fair trial. For one, the jury and witnesses can be biased, by the news media, by talk with others, and by personal opinion.
"The poor have nowhere near the chance that the rich possess to keep their freedom, due to the fact that the rich can hire very expensive and very effective lawyers, while the poor must take whatever defense the court might offer. This in itself is gross injustice.
"Let me say that if we consider the same crime as committed equally by a fixed number of both groups, there would be many more poor people than rich dead by execution.
Our system does not use lawyers; it does not use juries; it does not use trials; it does not punish. Instead, when a criminal or suspected criminal is apprehended, he has one of two courses. A: he can admit his guilt or B: he can sign a form requesting a Psychprobe to be performed.
"In the first case he is given several choices.
"The first choice is to voluntarily submit to incarceration for the standard period as judged to be appropriate for the crime. He is at no time actually behind bars, as you say. Instead, he is given a room in a dormitory, in one of our large areas for the purpose.
"Each planet has one of the areas, but they are unlike a normal penal area on your world. There are no cells, no guards, no walls - nothing whatever to restrain the individual physically.
"Instead, he is required to register three times a day at the main building in the area, once upon arising, once at midday, and once before retiring for the night. He knows full well that if he fails to register, a search will automatically be undertaken and when—not if— he is found he will be returned to continue his voluntary retention, but with added security requirements.
"While in these areas, he has a variety of useful jobs to do. There are repair shops, manufacturing plants, and a number of other facilities. There are recreation areas, dining areas, and what you would call PX's.
"After his work day is completed, he has full run of the base until Galun 18, Curfew time, when he must register and retire for the night, to awaken at Galun 5.
"He is of course paid for his work, a sufficient amount to give him financial freedom within the facilities on the base. He could not actually use his (UnEc) card off base, since the cards are red as opposed to the green used in ordinary life. The dorm rooms are very comfortable) and include bathing and toilet facilities, entertainment equipment such as radio, telescreen and recordings. There is a well-stocked library in each dorm and a large main library in the recreational complex.
"Visiting hours are every day after the work period, from Galun 6 to Galun 12 being the period for work. From Galun 12 to Galun 18 is free time.
"This might seem like luxury, but there is a decided feeling of restraint in the people, despite the seeming freedom. For one, they are required to stay on base and know that if they try to leave they will be captured and returned within half a day. They cannot use their UE cards off base. They cannot travel from planet to planet. They cannot visit home. They live according to schedule. This in itself is sufficient psychological "punishment" to allay in the person any future plans for crime.
"While he is there, he can be given an education and work training if for some reason he did not receive them in childhood. I should say that 99% of all crime on our world is due to these factors - what little crime there is, that is.
"The second choice he has is to undergo a voluntary assignment to one of the many planetary development units that constantly bring civilization to virgin worlds that are frequently discovered.
"Here he lives among non-criminals, the only distinction being the red card and the three registrations daily. Also be must remain on the planet whereas the others can leave freely. He shares the same living quarters, recreational facilities, etc. Still, these people feel the psychological walls around them.
"Here too, an education will he provided when required.
"The third alternative is to undergo corrective psychprobing to change the criminal tendencies. Here the individual must report once every day to the office in the city nearest him, where be will be probed to determine the effect of the corrective measures. Usually, this will take about twenty to twenty-five days, after which he is free to resume his normal place in society. This option is typically reserved for what you would call 'petty crimes'.
During this period, he is distinguished by a yellow card. He can use this anywhere in the city of his choice, but in no other either on that planet or on others. The card is identified specifically with a certain city, and is so printed that attempts to change the city will render the card VOID in large black letters, much like the checks that your banks issue which void on erasure.
"Further, he cannot leave the city or planet where be has agreed to remain. This is similar thereby to your probation system.
"If the individual requests that he be psychprobed to determine his guilt or innocence, he is brought without further delay to the nearest Psych Center, put into a semiconscious state, and his conscious and subconscious centers are probed. We have learned from experience that the brain patterns of criminals are unquestionably distinct from those of other people. These patterns serve as the first of the two indicating probes. If the person has these patterns, which are formed both by guilt feelings and aberrant mental functioning, then the second probe is used which translates exactly the brain impulses corresponding to the memory of these crimes into visible pictures, in sequence, in reply to questions.
"If by this method guilt is determined, then he can choose one of the three means of "punishment", and in some cases must submit to corrective psychprobing as well. In rare instances, it requires surgical correction of brain damage to effect the required rehabilitative measures. As usual, education is provided as needed.
"If these people are found to be innocent, then they are given formal apologies from the Public Liaison of the President of the planet, and his UE card next delivered contains the amount he lost due to retention, as if he had never left his job, plus in most cases a recompense equivalent to anywhere from one day to ten days of pay.
"One thing we require absolutely is that no mention of these proceedings be made in public news media. All activities are strictly private. No mention of the crime involved is made in the news media, and penalties are involved for those who do not respect this right to privacy of both the criminal and the family, and also the victim of the crime. Normally, there is no public show of wariness or distrust of the criminal, since people understand that he probably found no alternative under his circumstances, whatever they might be. There is a total lack of negative feeling toward criminals due to the training that all get in the years of their education, which disallows antipathy or disgust.
"Finally, there is no shunning of ex-criminals, and in fact they are eagerly accepted into society. We are all happy to see a man or woman become a productive and free member of civilization, and everyone practically bends over backward to help the ex-criminal adjust and become one of them.
"The greatest number of crimes are of the category of stealing, since hunger and need are powerful driving forces. We have NEVER had any occasions of killing, sex crimes, or serious violations. Occasionally there are bodily injury crimes, but as we have said, the preponderance of them are crimes of stealing. We think that this is a credit both to our society and to our economic system.
"We have told you now how we care for law-breakers. You might do well to consider these principles within the limits of your culture's abilities. For now, va i luce, brother."
In preparing this report for conversion, I communicated with Andre-Kael, now serving as an Alliance consultant for planets with problems that require his special knowledge. He said that in the 40 years since he spoke to me during that communication, he had done intensive study of our world's crime problems. He stated very frankly:
"In looking over what I said, I was naive about suggesting that you consider adopting our practices. My only defense is that I was basing my judgments on preliminary data from the Project Terra team and coloring it with my perspective as a criminologist on Korendor.
"I read ArKay's full report on his three-day tour of your cities, and I was appalled at what he related. ArKay was perfectly justified in terminating the lives of those young thugs. I must retract my comments about the death penalty, as you call it. In all my experience as a criminologist, including in my present position with the Alliance, I have not encountered another world such as yours, with people who are absolutely beyond any hope of rehabilitation. In such cases, there is no rationale for continuing their existence.
"You have my profound sympathies, brother. Va i luce."
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved