It is my prayer that we get better at helping family members who did not do anything illegal or bad, yet suffer along with their child, parent, spouse, friend, uncle, cousin, etc. Because the numbers reflect an important truth: where family ties remain strong recidivism is markedly lower.
We seem to have lost the original purpose of consequences for wrong acts: restitution and restoration. Until a few decades ago the idea was to do what could be done to help the victim of the crime. Of course in those days it was pretty clear who the victim was...he was the guy or gal who had lost property, health or life because of the willful act of another. Now if a victim of crime wants restitution they have to hire an attorney, sue in civil court and, unless the criminal is a person of means, wind up actually in worse shape than ever emotionally and financially. The other idea was to convince folks to "go straight", meaning return to the community and become productive, contributing citizens and family members.
Somewhere we have gotten lost in a system where most of the time everybody looses. Except for some rare programs there is not much work on helping the criminal understand how their behavior has harmed the community, their families and other individuals. Folks who were raised with families who lived productive, honorable lives based on an ethical base find it hard to understand how some folks don't get that. But it is an increasing problem in a culture more concerned with "getting our props" than in risking being kind. Many folks send a check and think that is enough, but still can't identify the janitor from work or the girl who drew their blood at the hospital if they run into them at the grocery store.
Does that seem like a small thing to you? Because I think it is huge. Customers are too often more engaged with a gossip on the cell phone that a kind word for the check-out clerk. Drivers are so involved with the music on the radio they don't notice a motorcycle until they have cut into their lane. Teacher are so overwhelmed with keeping everyone under control and keeping up with paperwork they have no idea a child's grandmother went into the hospital last night. Such disconnects cause lost opportunities and even outright harm, but we all have a dozen excuses about why we "didn't mean anything bad."
I've about come to the conclusion that the pain I cause by being self-centered and thoughtless is every bit as bad as if I'm intentionally snippy and rude. I don't want to hear one more person whine, but whose behavior clearly shows we humans are far more interested in our own convenience than the lonely, unassertive person who is doing her or his job with integrity while the world never says more than a perfunctory thank-you if their cell phone does not ring.
Come on people! We are all connected and need to treat each interaction with the care God shows us.