Some views on dealing with crime are sometimes considered fringe by people. Two examples of this are left realism and peacemaking theory. In this post, we will take a look at each of these approaches to criminology.
Left realists disagree with how people who are more conservative than them on crime issues address and handle crime. Specific examples of what left realists disagree with are longer prison sentences for offenders and reducing social programs. In addition, left realists also disagree with people on the same side of the political spectrum in terms of seeing the problems in a Marxist’s critical criminology worldview.
Left realists agree that criminals should be held accountable for their actions. However, it is also important to recognize the oppression of society as found in the current government structure and economic forces. Furthermore, legal realists are concerned for the poor because they often live in high-crime neighborhoods and are thus more commonly found victims.
Left realists are pragmatists who do not see law enforcement as oppressors but still want to adhere to some of the ideas of social justice. For example, a left realist would encourage civilian oversight of the police. This includes the community in the workings of law enforcement without removing the presence of law enforcement in the community.
Peacemaking theory is based on the ideas of love and compassion as found in many different religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. Proponents of this theory believe that love and forgiveness are tools for overcoming crime in society.
For example, to lock someone behind bars for committing a crime, the system makes the same mistake as the prisoner. Instead of justice, society should try connecting with communities and working towards restoration. Violence causes violence is a core tenet of peacemaking theory.
Defining the police is an idea that is based on peacemaking theory. The idea is that since the police practice violence, it is actually causing violence. Therefore, if the police are defunded or eliminated, it will lead to a decline in criminal behavior, and everyone will be safe. That is also why such ideas as having unarmed community peace officers was encouraged as a form of reform because officers with guns cannot commit the same level of violent acts as armed officers.
One of the most common criticisms of peacemaking theory is that it is idealistic and naive. Generally, it takes a two-way relationship to encourage love. The problem is that criminals are often not loving and compassionate. The evidence for this is due to how they rob, steal, and kill their fellow man. Police officers seem to show much more compassion and love when they defend the powerless against criminal behavior.
Non-violent behavior is an excellent strategy in non-violent situations. However, suppose a criminal is a threat to society. In that case, the threat should more than likely be neutralized, if necessary, by violent means to show compassion and care to the innocent people who may suffer from the criminal’s behavior.
The ideas found here may be considered unusual, but this does not imply that they cannot be useful. What determines what is appropriate is the context and situation a person faces. There are times when compassion may reach a criminal, and there are also times when force is most appropriate. The real goal is to have options in the table so the system can choose what is best for that particular situation. No single-size approach or theory will work in every single situation because people are different.