Does Society Need Prisons?

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Ranvier
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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by Ranvier » March 2nd, 2017, 3:38 pm

I agree with TSBU, prison system should be morally reprehensible for any society. One human or the society in general has no right to dictate individual behavior. I would suggest a mandatory relocation to a state with legalized particular crime: prostitution - Nevada, marijuana possession or use - California, abortion - Washington State etc. International agreements could be made to designate islands or territory for violent crime offenders and criminal fraud offenders. It's not in the purview of the society to "fix" anyone, except for the mentally ill. Unfortunately this is only a philosophical exercise and not a realistically feasible option due to socioeconomic agenda, after all the prison system is a booming business.

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LuckyR
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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by LuckyR » March 3rd, 2017, 3:05 pm

Ranvier wrote:I agree with TSBU, prison system should be morally reprehensible for any society. One human or the society in general has no right to dictate individual behavior. I would suggest a mandatory relocation to a state with legalized particular crime: prostitution - Nevada, marijuana possession or use - California, abortion - Washington State etc. International agreements could be made to designate islands or territory for violent crime offenders and criminal fraud offenders. It's not in the purview of the society to "fix" anyone, except for the mentally ill. Unfortunately this is only a philosophical exercise and not a realistically feasible option due to socioeconomic agenda, after all the prison system is a booming business.
I would like to see you reconcile your second and third sentences, should be humorous.

BTW are you volunteering your state for the violent offenders? No? Why not? If you meant a currently unoccupied piece of land, what is the philosophical difference between this place where violent offenders are "mandatorily" sent and a prison?
"As usual... it depends."

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Ranvier
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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by Ranvier » March 3rd, 2017, 7:38 pm

Theoretically, people that commit non violent crimes (possession of marijuana or prostitution) are normal productive citizens that should be welcomed in like minded state society (California or Nevada) but are only "criminals" in the state they currently reside. Mandatory relocation would mean that the person would be financially penalized until they leave to suggested state, where they would have to register as a resident transferring their driving license and produce say an apartment lease or the electric bill. Violent crime offenders would be deported to international penal Islands or territory, hence the international agreements, away from the mainland with permanent loss of citizenship. That would be a self sustaining criminal colony, where violent offenders could live among each other as a society in peace or war as they please. Unlike the expensive prison system where we strip criminals of human right of freedom, voting rights, or exclusion from the society even when "rehabilitated". Killing criminals or locking them up for life in a small cell is not my idea of justice in vengeance only affecting my own sense of humanity and integrity. Everyone should have their choice on how to live their life, if criminals choose violence then let them be.

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LuckyR
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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by LuckyR » March 3rd, 2017, 11:37 pm

Ranvier wrote:Theoretically, people that commit non violent crimes (possession of marijuana or prostitution) are normal productive citizens that should be welcomed in like minded state society (California or Nevada) but are only "criminals" in the state they currently reside. Mandatory relocation would mean that the person would be financially penalized until they leave to suggested state, where they would have to register as a resident transferring their driving license and produce say an apartment lease or the electric bill. Violent crime offenders would be deported to international penal Islands or territory, hence the international agreements, away from the mainland with permanent loss of citizenship. That would be a self sustaining criminal colony, where violent offenders could live among each other as a society in peace or war as they please. Unlike the expensive prison system where we strip criminals of human right of freedom, voting rights, or exclusion from the society even when "rehabilitated". Killing criminals or locking them up for life in a small cell is not my idea of justice in vengeance only affecting my own sense of humanity and integrity. Everyone should have their choice on how to live their life, if criminals choose violence then let them be.
Would the penal colony have "guards" working there or would it be 100% criminals? BTW sounds like in your world every crime is a life sentence... good luck with that...
"As usual... it depends."

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Ranvier
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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by Ranvier » March 4th, 2017, 2:45 am

No guards, just people that committed a crime that can choose to change and work for good among themselves or remain violent. Of course, I don't think that rape or murder can be undone. A rapist has to live with the consequences of the rape for life but that's s not the same as the life sentence in a prison cell...As I said, this is just a philosophical exercise but thanks for the luck :)

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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by LuckyR » March 5th, 2017, 1:14 pm

Ranvier wrote:No guards, just people that committed a crime that can choose to change and work for good among themselves or remain violent. Of course, I don't think that rape or murder can be undone. A rapist has to live with the consequences of the rape for life but that's s not the same as the life sentence in a prison cell...As I said, this is just a philosophical exercise but thanks for the luck :)
OK, so a closed society 100% made up of what currently would be prison inmates, locked into that society for life, without access to any services (medical, food production etc) that they cannot provide for themselves. To be honest, if I ever knock over a liquor store, I would vastly prefer the current prison/justice system.
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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by GE Morton » March 5th, 2017, 3:43 pm

Scott wrote:
People think of jails and prisons as an essential part of society, but do we really need them?
Depends upon how you construe the word "prison." If it means prisons of the sort most common today (i.e., in the US), then the answer is No. If you mean a place where dangerous criminals can be separated from the rest of the population, then the answer is Yes.

There are two contending models for so-called "criminal justice systems": the punishment model and the rehabilitation model. The first assumes the purpose of the system is punishing offenders, per the theory that attaching unpleasant consequences to criminal behavior will deter that behavior. This approach also resonates with the Old Testament concept of justice, i.e., "an eye for an eye." The rehabilitation model contends that the purpose of prisons (and the criminal justice system generally) should be rehabilitating the offender --- identifying whatever personal experiences or difficulties or lacks "caused" him to commit the crime and providing him with the counseling, training, and other support he may need to overcome those lacks.

Neither of those approaches is very successful, and neither has the slightest thing to do with justice.

Justice is securing to each person what he is due. What a person is due is what he has earned, or otherwise merits because of some action on his part. E.g., a laborer is due the wages promised once he has performed the work; a sprinter is due the gold medal if he wins his race; a lender is due a payment at the time the borrower agreed to pay; a person injured in a car crash is due damages from the drunk driver who hit him. Whenever someone denies another person something he is due, an injustice is committed.

Real crimes have victims --- persons who suffer injuries or losses because of deliberate acts by other persons. So one might suppose that the central purpose of a criminal justice system would be forcing the criminal to make good those losses. Neither the punishment nor the rehabilitation approaches pay any more than lip service to that objective.

A real criminal justice system --- one that takes justice seriously --- would work like this: Once a guilty verdict is reached the trial moves into a second phase, a restitution hearing. The extent of the victim's losses would be computed, using the same methods and standards used in civil tort lawsuits. The State's costs to locate, apprehend, and try the criminal are added to that sum, as are the costs of his ongoing confinement, if he must be confined. If he can pay that bill from his pocket, he is set free, unless he is a "habitual criminal," i.e., he has multiple prior convictions. If he can't pay from his pocket he is confined to a work center and paid at the prevailing market rate for whatever work he is qualified to perform, until his restitution obligation is paid in full.

What if he refuses to work? Then he doesn't eat.

Citizens have no duty to "rehabilitate" criminals, or to feed them or house them. And merely locking them up for some arbitrary (and usually nominal) period of time does nothing to make their victims whole.

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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by Ranvier » March 5th, 2017, 9:47 pm

LuckyR wrote:...without access to any services (medical, food production etc) that they cannot provide for themselves.
A society or a city isn't build over night. You make several assumptions that "criminals" are mindless beasts just running around a civilized world "itching" to kill someone. They are helpless and useless individuals in a civilized world, destined to succumb to sickness and despair without the help of the "normal" brethren. There are no physicians who killed their wife and lover in an affect of jealousy rage. No architects, construction workers, mechanics, farmers, politicians, or police officers can ever commit any violent crime. Just useless bums roaming the streets commit such crimes? I don't know, maybe...or perhaps 100 inmates to start with placed on an island would say: "Hey guys, we clearly messed up but look at all this land and fruit bearing trees. Wait a minute, look guys over there in a distance I see some shed with tools and other supplies to seed the land. What do you guys say to building a shelter, who's with me?" Perhaps that guy will be the first one to go or maybe they would cooperate, I don't know.

-- Updated March 5th, 2017, 11:00 pm to add the following --

GE Morton
Well presented thoughts and good ideas for making the legal system more humane. However, there are couple of points that would require more contemplation.

1. The main problem with our current legal system is that it doesn't really prevent the crime.

2. The wealthy citizens have a much greater chance of getting away with the crime based on the quality of representation than those that can't afford it. Innocent till proven guilty is a nice sentiment but most of the time "presumed innocent" are in jail unable to post the bail. I'd say give the first time offender a summons for the court, if they don't show up then they are automatically guilty and there is no point in wasting time on the court proceedings (judge, lawyer, prosecutor, court guards, jury, or electricity to power the whole shebang). But as always, everyone has to make money so things are the way there are regardless if it makes sense. What you propose cuts down on the court costs but doesn't stop the inequity of dispensing the law, never mind the justice.

3. How do we place a monetary value on human life and what if someone is really wealthy that can afford to kill someone in a broad day light and pay for it, legally.

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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by GE Morton » March 7th, 2017, 12:45 pm

Ranvier wrote:
1. The main problem with our current legal system is that it doesn't really prevent the crime.
There is no way of preventing crime. There are ways of reducing it, however --- the chief way being removing criminals from the society. About 75% of "street crimes" (robbery, burglary, assault, rape, theft) are committed by recidivists. If those offenders had been kept in prison those crimes would not have been committed.
2. The wealthy citizens have a much greater chance of getting away with the crime based on the quality of representation than those that can't afford it. Innocent till proven guilty is a nice sentiment but most of the time "presumed innocent" are in jail unable to post the bail. I'd say give the first time offender a summons for the court, if they don't show up then they are automatically guilty and there is no point in wasting time on the court proceedings (judge, lawyer, prosecutor, court guards, jury, or electricity to power the whole shebang).
Failure to appear is tantamount to guilty plea. Sounds good to me! (That's how traffic fines work, BTW).
3. How do we place a monetary value on human life and what if someone is really wealthy that can afford to kill someone in a broad day light and pay for it, legally.
We do so routinely, in "wrongful death" lawsuits. What is calculated is the economic impact of the death on others. When the death is intentionally caused punitive damages can be added to that sum.

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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by LuckyR » March 8th, 2017, 10:46 pm

Ranvier wrote:
LuckyR wrote:...without access to any services (medical, food production etc) that they cannot provide for themselves.
A society or a city isn't build over night. You make several assumptions that "criminals" are mindless beasts just running around a civilized world "itching" to kill someone. They are helpless and useless individuals in a civilized world, destined to succumb to sickness and despair without the help of the "normal" brethren. There are no physicians who killed their wife and lover in an affect of jealousy rage. No architects, construction workers, mechanics, farmers, politicians, or police officers can ever commit any violent crime. Just useless bums roaming the streets commit such crimes? I don't know, maybe...or perhaps 100 inmates to start with placed on an island would say: "Hey guys, we clearly messed up but look at all this land and fruit bearing trees. Wait a minute, look guys over there in a distance I see some shed with tools and other supplies to seed the land. What do you guys say to building a shelter, who's with me?" Perhaps that guy will be the first one to go or maybe they would cooperate, I don't know.
No, the opposite. I believe that everyone breaks the law in minor ways routinely and that everyone can (but hasn't, so far) break the law in a dramatic way. In that context, "criminal" means: the unlucky lawbreaker who happens to get caught. Of course there are professional criminals, where that is what they do all day, every day. So who exactly is going to populate the island? You? You've broken the law (as have I and every person on this, and any other Forum). No you're not going to volunteer, so instead we are going to have basically the current prison population, which as everyone knows is NOT a cross section of society. Sure there are Health Care Professionals in prison, but not anywhere nearly enough to provide Health Care services, so my original premise stands and your rebuttal fails.
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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by Ranvier » March 9th, 2017, 3:14 am

Oh LuckyR, I don't perceive our polemic as adversarial rebuttal but a friendly philosophical exercise. I'm not sure what "laws" I had broken but even then I don't imagine that I could be described as a "criminal". Again, I enjoy our conversation but I must point out that we're discussing the "violent crime" and if you wish the professional criminal. Only such people would enjoy the new scenery of a penal island, so don't worry you're good where you are :wink:

As for the health care on the "penal island", we can set up a library next to the tool shed, so they can study medicine if they choose that to be a priority.

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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by LuckyR » March 9th, 2017, 4:31 am

Got it! I see where took that right turn. Separate question, do you think the inhabitants of the penal colony will make "rules" (ie laws)? If so, what do you think they'll do with the rulebreakers?
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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by Ranvier » March 9th, 2017, 6:51 am

Criminals perpetually break rules so they would be more likely to be much closer to absolute freedom of Anarchy. However, one can't erase completely what one knows and is used to so in spite of resisting rules they would most likely invent some rudimentary rules of conduct to establish the hierarchy within the penal island population. Establishing the hierarchy is something that all social animals do, including humans. Such hierarchy would be established based on physical strength as well as usefulness to the group in division of resources. For members of such "society" without a physical strength or useful survival skills, It would definitely be worth while to hit those medical books. :)

-- Updated March 9th, 2017, 7:06 am to add the following --

The rule breakers, I imagine, would be dealt with harshly and swiftly. This would be partially due to the violent nature of such population but also due to the maintenance of perception of strength and respect. Very much similar to the Wild West of early 19th century.

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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by GE Morton » March 9th, 2017, 11:08 pm

LuckyR wrote:I believe that everyone breaks the law in minor ways routinely and that everyone can (but hasn't, so far) break the law in a dramatic way. In that context, "criminal" means: the unlucky lawbreaker who happens to get caught.
The relevant difference is not "minor" v. "dramatic." From a philosophical point of view it is whether the lawbreaking is moral or immoral. It is immoral if it involves a violation of another agent's rights; lawbreaking which does does not is morally irrelevant.

Law has no moral significance per se. It acquires moral significance only when it codifies a moral rule. We should reserve the word "criminal" for persons who violate a morally-grounded law, and refer to other lawbreakers as merely "lawbreakers." Labeling Rosa Parks, Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies, Bep Voskuijl, or the American citizens who operated the underground railroad in the 19th century "criminals" is slanderous, though they were all lawbreakers.

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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by LuckyR » March 10th, 2017, 6:54 pm

Ranvier wrote:Criminals perpetually break rules so they would be more likely to be much closer to absolute freedom of Anarchy. However, one can't erase completely what one knows and is used to so in spite of resisting rules they would most likely invent some rudimentary rules of conduct to establish the hierarchy within the penal island population. Establishing the hierarchy is something that all social animals do, including humans. Such hierarchy would be established based on physical strength as well as usefulness to the group in division of resources. For members of such "society" without a physical strength or useful survival skills, It would definitely be worth while to hit those medical books. :)

-- Updated March 9th, 2017, 7:06 am to add the following --

The rule breakers, I imagine, would be dealt with harshly and swiftly. This would be partially due to the violent nature of such population but also due to the maintenance of perception of strength and respect. Very much similar to the Wild West of early 19th century.
Oh BTW, what happens to the children born in the penal colony? In the colony (with their family) or are they innocent enough to rejoin society?
"As usual... it depends."

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