Lady Justice with eyes covered by a blindfold is the picture of the idea of justice being impartial, she can’t see the color of your skin, your class or position in life. The scales she holds weigh the evidence in the case and the sword represents the punishment. This 16th century symbolism is used today and while it is rejected by some, much to my surprise at a recent event I attended, still holds the hope for justice for all. I would like to believe that the only people incarcerated in our jails are guilty as charged and only there for the time it takes for rehabilitation.
At UAF we watched the film Breaking the Cycle comparing US prisons to those in Norway. I was taken by the high toll that is paid by the correctional officers working in American prisons who are just glad to get home alive each day compared to the comradery of correctional officers and inmates at Halden prison. As a US Citizen I would like to see my tax dollars and state revenue spent on rehabilitation rather than punishment based on emotion. This is not a soft on crime mentality… this is a humanizing of the criminal so that someday he/she can be my neighbor.
I came away from last weekend with tears in my eyes and a desire to bring change, to be part of the solution with the idea that Fairbanks would be a good place to build a Halden style prison to replace the aging and cramped Fairbanks Correctional Center. Whenever I share my dreams I remind people that Fairbanks is the end of the world and in this community we could change everything if we worked together. With that in mind please join me on December 6th to listen to retired Judge Stephanie Rhoades speak at our regular coalition meeting (10am at City Hall).