Dearly Devoted Dexter

I just finished reading the second book in the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay and all I can say is.. WOW.

This is some amazing writing. I can’t even begin to describe it to you – all I can say is get the book and savor it for yourself. It is unlike anything I have ever read before. I don’t even know what “genre” one would place these books in. There’s a serial killer which would usually mean the crime fiction area.. but I have never read a crime fiction book that had me laughing out loud so regularly. Seriously laughing out loud.

The best part is that as far as I can see, the book only has one thing in common with season two of the TV show – Doakes is tailing Dexter. The book and the TV series do not collide and implode – they go their own way.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Dexter character and also the Dexter TV series, Dexter is a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. He has a “code” – a set of rules – that he follows when choosing a victim and one of those rules is that he must have actual proof that they are killing people.

But unlike our justice system, he does not follow the rules about how he collects that proof – he breaks into houses if necessary, he does what he needs to do in order to find out the truth to his satisfaction.

For me it raises a series of interesting moral questions that I’m asking myself – and I thought why just ask me, why not ask ya’all too? So every day this week I will be putting a question out there for thought and discussion.

The first question I have is –

What do you think about our justice system?

Here are my thoughts – I think that the justice system (both in Australia and from what I can see in the USA) is bloated, slow and unfair. I think that sentencing is too lenient. I think that unless we have decent mandatory minimum sentences you cannot expect the justice system to be a deterrent. I think that when you have such an abysmal juvenile justice system (where punishment tends to be a slap on the wrist even for unspeakable offences) you cannot expect the justice system to be a deterrent.

I think that judges do not take their responsibilities seriously. They are there to judge the offender for the crime they committed, not to lessen and minimise and try to make excuses for what they have done. They are NOT there to judge the victim – as often happens in rape cases.

As it stands now, kids who find themselves in the justice system early on in life find out that it is a game and they can play it without any real risk to their freedom. Until they are old enough to be sentenced as an Adult, they break the law as much as they want without being too concerned about the consequences. Then, when they are old enough to be sentenced as an adult, they are in the habit of breaking the law and usually not getting caught, so they just keep doing it.

I think you have to teach them the lessons early to avoid problems later. I think harsh sentencing when they are kids would be a better option – but the sentencing should be focused around providing them with role models and discipline and positives rather than negatives. Boot camp always seems to work fairly well but I would like to see some options that give kids a way to express their anger and frustration in other ways – what about art – drama – music camps? I think it is time to get creative in how we solve the problems instead of thinking locking people up is always the way to go.

If a kid has a teacher who believes in them, who inspires them, that can often be the ticket to getting themselves out of a bad situation. We need to provide those inspirational teachers to the kids who most need them.

What are your thoughts on the justice system?

The comments section is open, so let me know what you think! :)

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13 thoughts on “Dearly Devoted Dexter

  1. Opening a can of worms…

    I think a lot of people get angry when they think of the “legal” system as a “justice” system. They can be, and very often are, two different things. Just because something goes to court, it doesn’t necessarily mean justice (a matter of perspective) will be served. The law will be followed (hopefully), but what you or I class as justice may not be done. Another issue is the matter of precedent, which is a major part of our system. Unless someone has the time, willingness and money to appeal a decision it can be difficult to change the way the circumstances of a case will be viewed legally.

    Having said that, I agree that there need to be much greater deterrents in place for young offenders, although some of them, after suffering years of abuse and neglect, may just need to be taught how a functional society operates (no easy feat I’m sure). I am also often outraged at the “punishment” served – how is it that a rapist can get 3 years prison and someone who defrauds the tax department gets 6?

  2. I really must get around to reading one of the Dexter books – took me to the end of the first series to get hooked but when i was hooked, i was very hooked and flew through the second series as fast as i could.

    As far as our justice system goes i have a few opinions of my own:
    – Its skewed in favour of the criminal and they can work the system if they have enough money or influence (OJ in the US for example)
    – The victim normally seems to have far less rights than the criminal
    – Too often slaps on the wrist are handed down for life altering (for the victim) crimes
    – Alcohol and Drugs seem to be able to be used as an excuse for diminished responsibility for heinous crimes. No one makes them start taking drugs or drinking and it should be no excuse in the eyes of the law.

    There is my 5 cents worth, no change required

  3. Well, I like watching Dexter on the TeeVee, but there are holes in the plot one could drive a Hummer through. Maybe the book is better.

    As for justice, if our system (USA) is skewed in favor of the criminals, how come we have over 2,000,000 in prison, and what would we do with the new arrivals at the Graybar Hotel if all those “technicalities” went away? We literally could not afford to house another massive influx of inmates.

  4. I haven’t read the Dexter books – they sound really interesting though. But when I read this paragraph of what you wrote I simply couldn’t agree with you more: “As it stands now, kids who find themselves in the justice system early on in life find out that it is a game and they can play it without any real risk to their freedom. Until they are old enough to be sentenced as an Adult, they break the law as much as they want without being too concerned about the consequences. Then, when they are old enough to be sentenced as an adult, they are in the habit of breaking the law and usually not getting caught, so they just keep doing it.”

    I have said myself on numerous occasions that I feel if a certain family member of mine had been dealt with more harshly as a juvenile when breaking the law, that they wouldn’t have become repeat offenders and might have had a different life today. It really is sad. I feel this person was failed by the system when his parents couldn’t be counted on to instill the proper values. I mean, most average-intelligenced persons at about the age of 12 years can safely be said to know the difference between right and wrong. If they repeatedly break the law between that age and 18 years of age, then they shouldn’t get just a slap on the wrist. The more we take it seriously when they are young, the less chance they will repeat as adults and less chance they will end up in the penal system for any length of time and hopefully the better additions they are to society. Just my opinion.

  5. Oh, I’m SO glad someone I know finally reviewed those books! Now I can order them with impunity. Did you get them through the Showtime site, or is there another source now?

  6. I’m throwing my 5cents onto the same table as Greg, with another 5 cents to agree that different types of “boot” camps for young offenders would be a good idea. Another idea would be government funded activities facilities in neighbourhoods so that young children have a place to go instead of wandering the streets. I realise there are already some of these types of places, but for many parents the cost is prohibitive, many in low income brackets are barely making ends meet, paying high fees for after school or weekend activities is beyond them. I know what I want to say here, but can’t really get the words together. I can add that in spite of what people say, the way children are raised isn’t always at fault. I raised 4 law abiding citizens, one of whom often skates a little too close to the illegal side of things. I’ve said to him on more than one occasion “if you don’t want to go to jail then don’t do the things that will take you there”.

  7. I think, that you are on it better than we are… Here even some judges were criminals. Some cases are on the court even for 10 years – mostly economical crimes made on the other peoples and those criminals run freely.
    We had here a crime, when some people beat animal to death or burn live animals to death right before camera and they even did not went to jail (such people can easily kill a human too), or some estate agents who steel money from their clients, and the worst is, when people steel. They get few months and start again. Like they steel potatoes right from the fields. The farmers here have to guard the fields at night, because the police may caught the robbers, but at next night some another people will come, because they know, that they do not get any high punishment. And I think the worst think is, that if you kill somebody in self-defence, you get 3 years for it.
    And those young… It is a hard question, because nowadays so many children act like criminals… I think, that they were not learn to empathy, respect, but also they want to act like they idols and the biggest idols for them are the worst behaving peoples.

  8. What a co-incidence that you are and I are writing about Dexter.
    I’m watching series one, not yet finished and have reviewed it so far at
    http://www.ozwebhub.com/blog/2008/04/09/dexter-the-dvd/

    I am desperately wanting to find out that Dexter actually dreams these serial killings of his but your review has unfortunately debunked that theory.

    I won’t comment yet about the justice system but I have never supported vigilantes.

  9. I just can’t agree with the views expressed so far.
    They assume that all people are vessels into which we as parents just have to pour in good values. They reject the notion that there are biological flaws from the beginning, usually mental illness, and that the perpetrator has a perfect environment in which to grow up.

    As we see in Dexter, the presumption too is that Dexter has a killing gene which his adoptive father detects and teaches him how to be “normal” . I do not except that there is such a thing as a killing gene. Also, Dexter is portrayed as a psychopath, from birth.

    Psychopaths develop from shocking environmental backgrounds.
    Hey guys, this is just a film. Not based on a real person. or is it? I haven’t read the novels.

  10. Dexter is so hot, I just can’t get enough of this show! cant wait until season 3 starts on Showtime!!

  11. I know this is an old post, but I just got started watching Dexter and after reading this I’m going out and getting the books. And I agree with you about the justice system. It seems like it’s all about how much money you have and how well your lawyer can play the system.

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