Just listened on Information Radio to continued episodes of bicycle thefts in Winnipeg- having had my first new bicycle stolen from Clark St. in Fort Rouge locked outside to a tree overnight, I empathize with Callie Beaudette. I guess I’m still holding some anger and resentment after 40 years? a little-ya think? The theft happened in 1973.
Remedy: punishment for bike thieves: teach them consequences- broken knees will help them learn what it means to lose one’s mobility. I know this sounds excessive and barbaric- it is- barbaric remedy for barbarians (my primal perception of bike thieves). they won’t steal another bike- guaranteed.
I would be one of those walking around with bad knees from having committed a juvenile act of thievery. Marc, I hope you’ve forgiven me for stealing your bike back in 1966 when we were 14?
It’s easy to judge; it’s more difficult to forgive.
I’ve also recently witnessed a inebriated man steal a bike by City Place Mall on Donald Street in the middle of the afternoon- because the bike wasn’t locked and when asked by me, he said he needed it. Simple. I watched him ride away and didn’t want to get involved in being a cop. After all it wasn’t locked!
Surely there is a more compassionate and forgiving remedy to bike stealing yet that part of my primal brain which is attached to ego and property rights just wants revenge. An eye for an eye seems so removed from my present desire to be peaceful and loving yet something has to be said about primal instincts in handing out justice. One gets a deep sense of gratification for getting even: the mass cheer as the head drops into the basket.
Although I know there is some evolution which has happened since the guillotine to modify our social and personal thinking about retribution, yet getting even still sounds appealing towards individuals who don’t respect others’ property and steal their mobility and are recidivist. The use of public stocks seems to be appropriate for some instances where public shame could reduce recidivism. The problem is that social anonymity removes the social stigma which shaming can produce.
So should society through its justice system give out harsher punishments for stealing to teach those who think laws aren’t for them and who are resistant to learning respect?
What to do with those who are recidivist and just won’t change their ways?
Should those who steal bikes with intent to sell them for money to buy drugs be treated as addicts and thieves?
Shouldn’t they be dealt with more harshly than those who demonstrate remorse and make restitution?
Let’s have the conversation. Perhaps we can begin to shape public policy and have a spectrum of justice practices and punishments which really rehabilitate thieves and don’t just fine them or put them away in prisons to then just come out and repeat similar or more serious crimes.