Does Society Need Prisons?

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ape
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Post by ape » December 16th, 2009, 3:00 pm

Hi Scott,


We definitely do not need the kinds of prisons we now have since the mentality of those in charge do make matters worse.


Example: Since Hatred of myself as poor causes me to steal, when I then get arrested and imprisoned by those who further hate me as a thief, I am made worse because the mental cause of my crime is compounded: I now hate myself as a poor thief. So? I must recidivise after serving my term.


So all we really and only need is Love.


Then locked in the arms of that needed Love, we only WANT prisons and so will get Prisons of Love --open prisons---that guarantee the rehab of all who enter there so that they never return there.

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Post by wanabe » December 16th, 2009, 9:52 pm

Billy,
What isn't fascism?

Every time some one makes a suggestion that isn't laissez' faire(if I may call it that) you label it fascism.

What is your goal? Eliminate prisons then what? Eliminate law or any kind of order; because it is restricting in some way? You don't think a real fascist state would take advantage of a state with little/no organization and take over?

I respect your ideals very much. If people were mature enough to handle no laws or social order it would be great; but things aren't going to be prefect any time soon.

I have a theory that perfection 'is' stagnation and stagnation 'is' 'death'; things must change even if, sometimes not for the better.

Perhaps you can see "There are some things worth doing no matter what the consequence."(Billy) in a different light.

***

We could cut quotes and laugh all day but it gets nothing solved nor does it move the conversation anywhere.

Bottom line if each respective group does not have order and laws of some kind, SOMEONE will gladly force some upon them. You have to accept some amount of what you call fascism.

At what point does your anti fascism become fascist? Simply going to the other extreme is not the answer.
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Post by Scott » December 17th, 2009, 3:15 pm

Yes, Billy, if a state is so fascist or oppressive that one supports forceful revolution then of course it would strategically help the criminal rebels to overthrow the prison system.

But the topic of this thread isn't fascism, nor is it whether or not a particular contemporary country is so fascist that revolution would be desirable for the general public. The question is, are prisons necessary in a non-fascist state?

To protect the people of a society, I think it is obvious that there is a need to lock up the tiny minority of citizens who have a psychological abnormality that makes them more prone to victimize others (e.g. serial murders, rapists, etc.). But, as I said many times before, I think we can achieve that goal more effectively, efficiently and humanely by institutionalizing these people in a well-run, humane treatment facilities run by doctors until, if ever, they are rehabilitated than by throwing them in a purposely unpleasant cell as revenge for a set amount of time where they will usually come out more dangerous than they went in. Don't you agree?

This is a laissez-faire approach in the sense that it also entails releasing any non-violent non-victimizers who have only been convicted of a victimless/consensual crime (e.g. smoking marijuana, peacefully practicing a certain religion, prostitution, exercising free speech, drinking alcohol) and thus entails the legalization or at least decriminalization of such activities.

***
Juice wrote:Let's give them what they need before they victimize.
Juice wrote:The individual recognizes his own need for pre-crime-rehabilitation before he victimizes that's what responsibility and accountability is. That would be better than forcing post-crime rehabilitation on the individual after they harm and victimize any peaceful, innocent human being.

Tax dollars are better spent helping honest sincere individuals who may not have it as good as others from ever becoming victimizers and causing harm to any other human being than after they act in an inhuman manner to human beings through victimizing them by force.
Juice, I of course agree with those statements, which are well explained by you in my opinion. Whether in terms of government spending or non-governmental charity, I would much rather we give help to those who may otherwise become criminal victimizers thus preventing them from committing an act than providing them with treatment after the fact. Firstly, I think it would be more cost-effective. Secondly, it would protect the victim as well.

However, I do not think these pre-crime crime prevention methods will be 100% effective. There will still be people who are dangerously psychologically abnormal (i.e. more prone to victimize others, often self-destructively) who fall through the cracks in the system and/or who refuse to get treatment who then victimize someone, right? So we still need to figure out the most effective and efficient ways to deal with them once convicted of a criminal victimization. I think it's safer to treat them and only release them once they have been rehabilitated as I have described as opposed to sending them to an intentionally unpleasant prison for a set period of time to be released non-rehabilitated and I think more dangerous. Do you agree? I think it's more cost-efficient to rehabilitate them, if possible, and release them once rehabilitated--probably under various conditions such as no guns, no drinking, etc.--than to keep them in expensive prisons for life. Do you agree?

***

For the sake of avoiding running in circles, if anyone wants to re-raise the claim that making or keeping prisons even harsher than what I am proposing as a deterrent, I would ask that person to reread post #71 where I address that claim, a claim which I disbelieve.
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Post by Juice » December 17th, 2009, 5:12 pm

I believe that part of this discussion proves the distinctive dichotomy between current world views and the claims to approaching the reality of humanity.

I believe that there is a measurable distinction between good and evil, and while some may not be morally evil they can become susceptible to the trappings of evil, as a human being I am not immune myself, but I recognize that I must be on guard against it and therefore must question where my motivation comes from and how it is expressed. I have no hesitance defining something or someone as evil since I have a foundation which guides me to those determinations. While I understand that there will be arguments to those principles I also understand that those arguments are based in the pitfalls some are unaware of.

I also do not believe that we have an unforgiving or an intolerant society, and I also believe that the system strives to be as fair, honorable and compassionate as it can possibly be. Unfortunately there are some who definitely fall into a category of evil or anti-humanity rebellion. People, no matter the relationship, should not have to worry about falling prey to any uncertainty.

As I have stated, no matter what, no system can be flawless. "Cracks" are inherent in human limitations, and for this reason should the worse case scenario be considered when the safety of the innocent and those of peaceful intent be foremost considered.

It is easier for an evil person to hide among good than it is for a good person to hide among evil. This is especially significant when we see the inducement, by unaware people, to hide the evil person.

Besides Scott a psychopath is incurable, and with a sociopath one can never be sure of any motivations they exhibit.

The think the costs of the type of rehab you probably intend would be a great deal more expensive than three hots and a cot.
Last edited by Juice on December 17th, 2009, 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Billy » December 17th, 2009, 8:15 pm

For anyone seriously interested in this topic, please search Google and YouTube for "Angela Davis", a '70s Black radical and anti-prison ideologue. Her lectures have a lot of ideas that I had missed; just one example: no one takes responsibility for sending someone to prison, numerous police make the arrest, responsibility is divided between twelve jurors, the judge is also not responsible, the judge only sentences, and then the guards at the prison are 'just doing their job'.

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Post by Scott » December 17th, 2009, 11:49 pm

Billy wrote:For anyone seriously interested in this topic, please search Google and YouTube for "Angela Davis", a '70s Black radical and anti-prison ideologue. Her lectures have a lot of ideas that I had missed; just one example: no one takes responsibility for sending someone to prison, numerous police make the arrest, responsibility is divided between twelve jurors, the judge is also not responsible, the judge only sentences, and then the guards at the prison are 'just doing their job'.
In March 2008, I posted about Angela Davis' ideas on my blog after I read a book she wrote: Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis
Juice wrote:Besides Scott a psychopath is incurable, and with a sociopath one can never be sure of any motivations they exhibit.
I don't doubt that there are some psychological disorders that are untreatable--at least by current methods. Insofar as their untreatable disorder makes them dangerous, then I do not want them ever to be released into the public. I want them in humane insane asylums run by doctors. I see no benefit in treating these untreatably sick people extra mean as revenge--regardless of whether they were institutionalized and determined permanently unsafe without having committed a crime or after. Potentially, I do see some possible benefit in humanely studying them or testing experimental treatments on them much like is done with non-mental illnesses, but that's more of an issue of medical science and how best to fund and conduct developing medical science than criminal rehabilitation.
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Post by Algol » December 20th, 2009, 11:10 pm

The problem with prison is that no matter what the crime, confinement is now society's solution. In old times, prisons (known as reformitories) were developed to reform a deviant's behavior. The Quakers were the first to implement such a system in America, but the setting of the subject's confinement wasn't as it is today (no cells with bars). Punishment wasn't the ideal; correction was. Michel Foucault wrote a book entitled 'Discipline and Punish; The Birth of the Prison' which explains the prison's beginnings and evolution through history to our present day (Another writing of his 'Madness and Civilization' investigates the evolution of Asylums and the confinement of those thought crazed). Society needs correction in order to function (obviously) otherwise what would keep an individual from violating the law if it were to the benefit of him or her. But today it is not the criminal who is of concern to law makers. Men will sometimes come out worse behaviorally then they were before entering.
The most disturbing aspect of prison today (maybe always)is that with enough money a person is above the law to a certain degree. Could Paris Hilton have been released from jail after having a nervous breakdown if daddy wasn't loaded? Or Robert Blake; O.J.;

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Re: Does Society Need Prisons?

Post by Algol » August 23rd, 2010, 3:49 pm

Scott wrote:Does Society Need Prisons?
by Scott Hughes


Non-violent non-victimizers - Governments have a tendency to criminalize behaviors that do not hurt anyone. The governments create victimless crimes by creating authoritarian laws. When people break these laws, they have not hurt anyone in any major way. These laws can include any laws outlawing victimless behaviors, such as drug possession, prostitution, peacefully practicing a religion, and so on and so forth. For example, the United States currently has over 1 million people behind bars for victimless crimes, which only limits freedom and does not protect others. Instead of putting these non-violent people in jail or prison, we can just let them go and legalize all victimless behaviors. It makes more sense to let people have freedom than to waste resources enforcing authoritarian laws.


Agreed, but some of these 'victimless' crimes can inadvertently hurt others. For example, that stupid commercial 5 or so years ago that claimed if you buy a bag of pot your aiding and abetting terrorism. (That was a very stupid advertisement made by the federal government to discourage drug use, considering how much funding we give to nations that wish to harm the U.S.)
Scott wrote:Incidental Criminals – Some people may commit an illegal act of violence or victimization due to external conditions. We can refer to these people as incidental criminals. These 'incidental criminals' do not have any more of a tendency to hurt others than the average person. For example, consider someone who has to steal to feed his family one day. Almost anyone would do that, so it does not mean we need to throw the person in jail or prison. If we can change the conditions that cause a normal person to a commit a crime, then we can do that rather than brutally lock a person in a cell. We have no need to throw a person in jail or prison if they pose no more danger than the average person but committed a one-time crime due to external circumstances.
Again I agree, but what about crimes of passion. For example, a person is taunted, pushed, and finally snaps in that moment of rage and unintentionally kills another. Do we punish for motive (which is hardly discernable in this case) or for consequence due to action??
Scott wrote:Mentally Sick People - Finally, we have sick people. These people have some sort of mental defect that makes them a danger to other people. If we do not restrain these people, they will victimize other people. So we must restrain them. But why put them in jail or prison? They need treatment, and prison will not cure them; it will just torture them. If we put them in jail or prison, then we can never let them out because jail or prison will not cure them. If we put them into a treatment facility, then we may successfully treat or cure some of them, at which point we can safely release those ones back into society. We will protect more people by putting mentally sick people into treatment centers (including insane asylums), then by throwing them in jail or prison. These people need professional care in a medical establishment, not the punishment of prison.
I disagree slightly. Once a person commits an act such as murder or premeditated violence, can that individual ever be 'cured' or is that something innate in that individual? Kinda like when a dog bites and draws blood, they are said to be that way for life so they must be terminated. Now humans are not dogs, but can all humans be reinstated into society after said treatment?
Scott wrote:I think most people feel like me in that I would prefer to protect people and to do it in as least brutal a way as possible. I have no interest in using the force of government to pointlessly get vengeance or inflict punishment using prisons. Thus, I see no need for prisons. We can release people who have no psychological defect that makes them dangerous, and we can put the ones with psychological defects in treatment. Let's base our policies on sympathy, understanding, and a desire to protect people. Let's not base policy on a wasteful indulgence in state-sanctioned vengeance.
It's a happy way of looking at things Scott, but there are too many issues to deal with. Number one is funding such treatment, but before that, we would need to develop proper ways to treat such 'ailments'. That's even more money for research.
Scott wrote:What do you think? Do you think society needs prisons? Why or why not?
There are some people who rebel for the sake of rebelling (i.e. Winona Ryder stealing when she could afford anything) I think a better question is do we have the right to imprison others for our own sake? This may seem off topic but it isn't; If there is no God backing law, who is to say what is just and what isn't? Nothing is absolute and the idea of law is absurd without a higher power. Rather, laws are made to benefit those with and in power here and now on earth. This is why possession in 9/10ths of the law. Prisons exist to protect property and position in society first and foremost in my opinion.

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Post by Scott » August 23rd, 2010, 7:29 pm

Thanks for your reply, Algol! :D
Algol wrote:Agreed, but some of these 'victimless' crimes can inadvertently hurt others.
What do you mean? If the activity actually hurts someone (and by hurt I mean in the political sense like punching someone in the throat not in the emotional sense like, "Oh my boyfriend broke up with me and now I'm hurting emotionally inside, can you put him in prison if he refuses to date me again?"), then it isn't victimless; if it does really hurt someone, it is not victimless.

You're not suggesting we start holding people criminally responsible for genuinely unintentional acts of victimization, i.e. true accidents? I assume you aren't. And I think most of the contemporary legal systems have an effective and relatively agreeable way to distinguish between forms of intent such that for instance a person following all traffic laws won't go to prison or a mental hospital for getting in a car accident but a liar on a TV commercial may still get charged for the effects of his fraud even if he tries to hide behind willful ignorance.

Although, misinformation in a commercial and any unintentional injuries would usually only be a civil matter not a criminal one both in most current systems and in the one I am proposing.
Algol wrote:[...]but what about crimes of passion. For example, a person is taunted, pushed, and finally snaps in that moment of rage and unintentionally kills another.
Good question. Incidentally, I think most legal systems in the developed world have a fairly decent way of dealing with temporary insanity. When it is brought-on by passion and extreme circumstances, like battered person syndrome, I think we need two start with two questions to figure out what category the person falls into and thus what to do: (1) Would a typical reasonable person of average mental health likely commit the same essential type of action (e.g. killing their abuser or killing their cheating wife) if put into those extenuating circumstances that the defendant/patient was in? (2) Have those extenuating circumstances caused psychological damage like post-traumatic stress disorder?

In any case, while I would keep it like it generally is now that the burden of proof is on the state (or plaintiff) to prove a person has committed a crime to make a criminal conviction, once convicted of a crime or otherwise determined to be insane in a way requiring involuntarily institutionalization then the burden of proof for release switches in my book. In other words, one has to be proven insane/criminal to be put in, but then to get out one has to be proven sane enough to be safe--at least when we are talking about extreme cases based off things like murder, rape, molestation, and violent hate crimes.
Algol wrote:Do we punish for motive (which is hardly discernable in this case) or for consequence due to action??
You'll have to rephrase this question because I'm not suggesting we punish at all. I'm suggesting we only involuntarily institutionalize people as a way of protecting ourselves and them, not as some form of self-righteous sadism.
Algol wrote: Once a person commits an act such as murder or premeditated violence, can that individual ever be 'cured' or is that something innate in that individual? Kinda like when a dog bites and draws blood, they are said to be that way for life so they must be terminated. Now humans are not dogs, but can all humans be reinstated into society after said treatment?
I think some can be cured or treated at least enough to be safe for a conditional release.
Algol wrote:It's a happy way of looking at things Scott, but there are too many issues to deal with. Number one is funding such treatment, but before that, we would need to develop proper ways to treat such 'ailments'. That's even more money for research.
I think my proposed system would be significantly cheaper than the current system and far, far, far more efficient. I think the most fundamental political reason we don't yet have a system more similar to my proposal is that it would save money. Governments and bureaucracies generally want to be inefficient in terms of spending money to get what the taxpayers want. I explain my views about that in specific regards to the prison industry in the following post: Recidivism and the Prison Industry. More generally, I explain that fundamental tendency of governments to be inefficient (e.g. throwing money at problems like crime and poverty without solving them) in my post The Philosophy of Government Spending.

As for your comments on god, I don't support theocracy and do not recognize arguments for or against the existence of laws or political reforms based on the existence of some alleged god or not or what qualities some alleged god allegedly has.
Algol wrote:laws are made to benefit those with and in power here and now on earth. This is why possession in 9/10ths of the law. Prisons exist to protect property and position in society first and foremost in my opinion.
I think those are valid criticisms of the current prison system in most if not all countries.
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Post by Unrealist42 » August 25th, 2010, 8:28 pm

Prisons serve a purpose. There is no doubt that dangerously violent maniacs should be locked up, everyone agrees on that, even most of the maniacs.

The problem with prisons today is that though they still perform the valuable service of locking up the dangerously violent they are used for other purposes as well, ones they are ill suited for.

Since the mass closing of public mental hospitals in the 1970s prisons have been used to warehouse the mentally unbalanced as an expedient that allows the more costly measures needed to actually treat these people and return them to normal life to be ignored.

Prisons have also become repositories for failed social policy. It is politically easier, but vastly more expensive, to lock up the poor and uneducated than to provide them with an environment and education that would allow them to escape the poverty trap.

The "tough on crime" hysteria has reached such insane heights that much petty crime has become felonious with long mandatory sentences. It has also resulted in far less opportunity for prisoner rehabilitation. It is telling that many states now spend more on prisons than education.

Only a completely insane society can lock up so many people for so long and expect them to come out as better citizens while denying them a program of rehabilitation.

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Post by Belinda » August 26th, 2010, 4:13 am

The "tough on crime" hysteria has reached such insane heights that much petty crime has become felonious with long mandatory sentences. It has also resulted in far less opportunity for prisoner rehabilitation. It is telling that many states now spend more on prisons than education
.

Yes! Our societies and many of their institutions,including religion, are ruled by fear and not by wisdom.Fear blinds the public to reason which dictates that removing the causes of crime is vastly easier on the public purse than is punishing criminals.
Removing the causes of crime includes education and abolishing poverty. Abolishing poverty is not only for the happiness of the otherwise poor and feckless, it's for the safe maintenance of public order.

And that goes for world poverty as well as for national poverty.
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Post by SQUARE » August 26th, 2010, 4:22 am

From what I've learned, America's justice system is top heavy. We funnel too much money processing criminals through the system and hardly any money in preventative and rehabilitation measures.

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Post by wanabe » August 27th, 2010, 9:25 pm

SQUARE,
SQUARE wrote: [America] funnel[s] too much money processing criminals through the system and hardly any money in preventative and rehabilitation measures.
I agree; if America spent more on education(using broadly) there would be less crime(indirectly). Rehabilitation is not a lost cause to me, but I think their needs to be a very through psychiatric evaluation(more than at present, and sooner rather than latter in a prisoners sentence) before hand to increase the likely hood of success, and not wasting funds that could be spent on education.
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Post by SHAHIN GHAEMMAGHAMI » September 29th, 2010, 2:31 pm

Scott
very interesting topic.I need more time to read all comments and write mine.
very quick question: is there any statistic worldwide about total number of prisoners and the ratio of genders(male to female) I know some poor countries prisons are so bad that even 1 day staying in there is impossible for a typical American prisoner.

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Post by Shoney » October 12th, 2010, 10:45 am

I belive, that it is a slow proccess. We cannot change to rehabilitation so quickly. We need to open up clinics and hospitals and do reserch on the mentally ill and addictied. This takes time, and slowly we may not have prisons.

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