Condemn the Crime, Not the Person

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Summary

The main idea of the essay “Condemn the Crime, Not the Person” by Jane Tangney is about finding another way to punish someone rather than putting them in jail for life. Tangney argues that putting offenders in jail makes them feel shameful about themselves, and that they are a bad person and therefore you can’t do anything to change. Humiliation is associated with disapproval. Shame makes an already bad situation worse. It leads to defensive actions, not corrective behaviors, whereas guilt makes you feel bad, but it makes you want to change your behavior. Shame does not motivate you to be better; you are no less likely to stop your wrongful behaviors, or no more likely to make amends. Tangney believes that community service sentences that are tailored to the nature of the crime are much more effective than any other punishment. For instance, drunk drivers can be sentenced to help clear sites of road accidents and to assist with campaigns to reduce drunken driving. However, some critics have rejected the idea of community services as an alternative to imprisonment. The critics suggest that offenders that are sentenced to community service will not benefit them, and it cheapens and lowers the value of what is seen as an honorable volunteer activity. Reaction

“How can we foster negative constructive feelings of guilt among America’s offenders? Well, one way is to force offenders to focus on the negative consequence of their behavior, particularly on the painful negative consequences for others.” (Tangney, 571). I agree with this quote very strongly. Let’s say, for example somebody went into a jewelry store and stole a necklace. They know fully well that what they are doing is wrong, but I don’t believe that they are aware of the negative consequences it can have on others. Offenders are selfish, and don’t care about the person or in most cases, people on the receiving end. Sex offenders don’t realize that the person they are sexually assaulting can...
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