Giorgi Mammoliti brings simplistic and emotionally appealing solutions to difficult questions. His latest suggestion is that people with criminal records – or who commit crimes – should be forced out of public housing (TCHC). This has superficial “doing something” appeal and plays well in certain elements of the populist media. However, his ideas are unwise.
First, our society hopes to rehabiltate people who commit crimes. It is simplistic and counterproductive to send a person doing his or her best to be a functioning member of society into homelessness just to satisfy the thirst for revenge. In the end, if those people were in fact homeless, our society as a whole would suffer greater crime from recidivism and a great extrajudicial injustice would have been delivered to individuals who were innocent of any crime at the time of punishment.
Even worse, TCHC houses many families in circumstances where there is no alternative housing. Any parent knows that controlling a teenager’s behaviour can be, to say the least, challenging. If one teenage member of a family strays into improper behaviour – carrying a gun, gang membership or even more serious crime – it is not consistent with or society’s moral values to assert collective punishment. The teenager’s parents or parent or siblings have done nothing wrong and do not deserve knee jerk retribution.
Gangs, violence, guns and unnecessary and senseless killings are a scourge on our society. However, our reaction as responsible citizens cannot be to lash out at the innocent