Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering. (Lev. 6:4-5)
Prison is a short-sighted, feebleminded idea. Debtors prison is worse. True Justice is not concerned with rehabilitation and only tangentially with punishment. It does†not equate to†law and order.†Justice is about keeping things in balance.†Although civil law (as opposed to God’s†Law)†should never be unjust and should address itself solely to matters of justice, it is not justice in itself. Civil law cannot correct every injustice, nor should it try. Some injustices must be tolerated by the law in order to ensure liberty to the people, and some injustices are beyond the jurisdiction of men. When men try to right every wrong and force everyone to behave, the end result is the multiplication of that which they ought to oppose: injustice. Prison is a perfect example.
If a person steals, we imprison him as punishment. So that we feel better about kenneling a fellow human being, we often refer to prisons as “correctional facilities.” We’re not putting people in cages; we’re fixing them, helping them to be more productive, happy citizens. We’re morons. Prison does no such thing. We’re treating people like irresponsible animals and then expecting them to behave like humans when we let them go again. We’re morons, because we seem to be continually surprised that this doesn’t work.
God’s Law never prescribes prison for anyone. Thieves, embezzlers, con-men and the like are expected to restore what they stole plus damages. If they†are unable to pay, then they are to work off their debt. In slavery if necessary.†Murderers and adulterers are to be executed. Addictions are ignored by the Law.†Addicts are their own punishment.