Crime and Justice through eyes of the Amiss 200 miles away from New York lays another world – one that is frozen in time. Home for a people whose lives have barely changed since their forefathers settled there over 300 years ago. Since then the Amiss community has spread across 28 states and has more than one hundred an eighty thousand members. Worlds apart from mainstream culture, the Amiss is oppose to many aspects of modern world, e. G. Use of modern technology such as computers or cars. Even the public school systems are in the Wrongs” to their beliefs, making the community create customized school, which end at 8:the grade.
One of the most striking aspects of Amiss life is their strong reluctance to the Criminal Justice system. Even though the subculture foster law- abiding people, and experience low crime rates, they are unwilling to report harassment, abuse or crimes committed against them or by them, because the protection given to them through legal means are considered to be non-Christian. Committed crimes according to the Amiss differ completely from the American Criminal Justice system, where crimes are considered to be downfalls”, or mere aberrations.
Instead of involving legal authorities such downfalls” should be addressed and dealt with internally. The restrictive approach to American policy and justice system creates a potential platform for future factorizations of the Amiss and hidden abuse and crimes” within the subculture. Such setup for potential crimes are results of the highly insulated and religious based culture, where Judgment falls into the hands off few Church officials. This non-violence principle has deep roots within the Amiss community, and based upon the interpretations of the Bible’s
Sermon on the Mount, and the tale of the Two Kingdoms (Thomas W. Foster) Amiss belief in non-violence is deeply rooted in their history, and is a primarily affect of the limited approach to the American law system to the non-violence behavior are found in the Bible stories of Jesus on the Mount (Matthew 5:39). The story promotes the principle of turning the other cheek’ saying that resist not evil, but whoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn him the other also. ” Being a founding principle of Amiss belief system, it clearly underlines that the use of force to solve problems are on-Amiss behavior.
Following principle is strengthened through historical events regarding their forefathers struggle, depicted in Martyr’s Mirror. The book is a recollect of early Amiss persecutions of 17th century. An often-told story in Martyrs Mirror is the Dirk Willies one. Being chased by authorities, Willies crosses a frozen lake successfully, however, Willies enemy isn’t as lucky and falls through the ice. Instead of leaving the enemy to his fate of certain death, Willies return to the rescue, even though knowing Willies will be executed.
Worth mentioning when liking about the Amiss non-violence views is the Christian teaching of the Two Kingdoms, which implies that there is a Spiritual kingdom (Heaven, governed by God), and a Worldly one (the Earth). The Amiss being devotees of Christian faith will only abide by the rules in the Worldly Kingdom”, which for them represents mainstream American culture, as long as it doesn’t interfere with God’s Kingdom. Difficulties have arisen between the mainstream and the Amiss as a result of the non-violence belief.
Crime and Justice in Amiss Society By snappy outsiders have as suspicious behavior, reaching a climax with their refusal to engage in battle against Germany, in World War II. The incidents lead to huge dispute and aggravations against the Amiss, and resulted in forced military services. Also, in a more current matter regarding the Amiss there is controversy of their reporting committed crimes of, by or against the Amiss. Rather then involving legal authorities, action of Judgment is preserved for Church, which may ‘shun’ individuals for a certain time, I. . To exclude them from church services for a certain time period, depending n their level of aberrations”, and depending whether they are Amiss or not The American Criminal Justice System, based upon the idea that punishment looses the power of threat against committed crimes, goes against the Amiss views of not using force, thus creating an existing gap between the culture, making it hard to incorporate the Amiss as American citizens” (Bryan D. Byers). According to many scholars of the Amiss culture, such as Foster (1997, Volvo. 0, noel-2) it has succeeded in avoiding some of the most serious social problems facing the lager society such as rime and unemployment. Such Romanization of the Amiss culture, indicates that the Amiss subculture is some kind of idealistic society, where nothing bas ever happens. Even if unemployment is at a minimum, it’s a greater overstatement to argue that crimes within the Amiss community are low, if not non-existent” (Crabbily, Donald B). When it comes to the approach of crime and Justice, clearly the Amiss live by different values than mainstream America.
Following strict codes of morals from the Christian tradition, together with the focus on forgiveness over anger. Different room the rest of America, the community lacks set of punishments being attached to committed aberrations”. According to Crabbily and Byers the Amiss Justice System is driven by the principle of Galantine’s,” which indicates and teaches submissiveness to the holy trinity of God, community and family. Instead, if the perpetrator confesses his guilt in front of the Church they are automatically forgiven. If a dispute occurs it is up to the Church officials, primarily the Bishop to solve.
If punishment is implemented, the offender had to repeated his behavior, and will offer shunning”, which take on different forms of seriousness, from being excluded from Church service to exclusion from the entire Amiss community. Not surprisingly there has been collisions between mainstream law and Amiss law, the biggest example being when the Amiss parents refused to put their children into public school until the age of 16. For the Amiss, school is only practiced to the eight-grade, and parents pulling their children out of the public school at that grade, caused several Jail times for Amiss parents. 972 the Amiss did receive an exemption, allowing the children only to go to the school in 8th grades. There also has been numerous of sexual assault crimes committed of the Amiss, most recently being the case of Mary Baler, who through her childhood was molested by her brothers. In this case, the Amiss value of forgiving the brothers for their aberrations” are exercised, and when Baler pressed charges to the police, she was seen as the bad guy in the scenario within the Amiss community (Hosteller, John). Because of their forgiving turn the other cheek’ view regarding Justice and Crime, they hardly ever go to the routs to make a report.
Instead they rather forgive the offenders. Such behavior makes the Amiss the perfect prey for potential crime and abuse,” since the offenders how the Amiss subculture works the way it does, it makes the gap between the Amiss and the ‘English” lesser to some extent. Even though closing themselves of from the rest of the world, the Amiss are still American citizens, and should be protected and cared for as such. However, there lays great difficulty in protecting a people that seek limited governmental involvement.
What such insight might bring o the ‘English” is closer knowledge, and inspiration to reduce the current alienation between the mainstream and the subculture. Finishing that compared to most Americans the Amiss culture seem most different, and the area of Crime and Justice is where such differences are highly played out. The Amiss society does have crime, as oppose to the romanticizes of the peaceful culture that is promoted in media. However what is different and most peculiar is the lack of punishment, where salvation lays in forgiveness is promoted.