Questions of bias

After reading all of these articles and essays from class, what I find interesting is that it usually plays up the sympathetic side of the prisoner. I find myself feeling bad for the prisoner, and yes, there is quite a lot of evidence that shows the injustice that they face. But I just wonder how I would feel if I read something from the point-of-view of a victim. For example, I read a story about a woman who murdered her mother-in-law, but the reason she was in prison was only briefly mentioned. Instead it described the horrible conditions she dealt with while in prison, and by the end I felt sorry for her. But imagine if I read about the same situation, except told through the eyes of someone in the victim’s family. I bet the murderer would come across as a monster, and I would believe it too.

This all just shows how influential the writing is on how you form your opinions. It is easy to feel connected to the side that is being victimized.  As of now, we are focusing more on the perspective of the prisoners, and that seems to be where I am forming my opinions. I wonder how different or how easily my mind would change if I heard more from victims. However, this also brings up the problem of allowing emotions to control the decision-making process for criminal justice. Right now I am struggling with my emotional response combined with the facts and statistics. This also would affect the policymakers; however, I think it is important for them especially, even though it is difficult, to set aside their emotions when creating any policies.

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One Response

  1. it seems to me that in our criminal justice system, anger, revenge, and retribution are easy and common; mercy, sympathy and compassion are hard and infrequent. no one disputes the need to arrest and punish perpetrators of terrible crimes, but isn’t the provision of fairness and mercy a measure of our humanity? for example, what does it say about us that we feel it appropriate to torture other human beings — criminals though they are — by locking them up in complete solitary confinement for years and years at a time?

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