Crime and Punishment

All in a Day’s Leave

June 02, 2018


It would take quite a lot of space to expose the full idiocy of all this. How, for example, could it be known that his previous periods of temporary release went well? Just because he wasn’t caught by the police? Are the police so efficient, then, that they catch every lawbreaker the moment he breaks the law? (In fact, Herman did not keep to his conditions of temporary release and committed a theft, but what, after all, can one expect from a petty criminal? As a burglar once said to me when I asked him whether he was going to stop burgling: “How can I stop? I’m a burglar. Burgling’s what I do.” Or, as they say in Nigeria, you can’t keep a goat from eating yams.) 

Herman was said to have been “radicalized’” in prison not long before his murderous attacks. There were lamentations in Belgium that the government had no proper plans to prevent such radicalization in prison or to counter it when it occurred. But countering such radicalization is quite beside the point. There should have been no question of releasing Herman for twenty or thirty years. It is thus the general surrender to crime that is the problem. Herman should not have been free to commit his further petty crimes such as murder and terrorism.

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