Does Society Need Prisons?

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Post Number:#31  Postby Scott » April 30th, 2008, 2:38 pm

Thoughtless,

I don't see how my proposals would lead to a dystopia. Will you elaborate on that point?

I think that my proposed way of dealing with convicts is less dystopian than the current way. The current way is just to punish them with prison and either keep them there for life or release them back into society when they are just as dangerous if not more dangerous than when they were taken out. Wouldn't you say it's more dystopian to just pointlessly lock people up for a certain amount of time?

Using my proposed methods, I believe much less people would be incarcerated at any given time than currently. And I believe the average convict would spend much less time incarcerated on average. Additionally, I think recidivism would be greatly reduced using my methods, which also means released convicts would be much less likely to end up getting re-incarcerated.

I'm not sure of the value of your distinction between basing the convicts' release on what they do as opposed to what they are. Regardless, let's not forget that convicts are people who have been proven guilty in a court where the burden of proof rests on the prosecutor. Of course, I do think it would be wise and incredibly helpful to find ways to improve the fairness of the trials and to ensure that the innocent until proven guilty policy is strictly upheld, but that's true independently of my proposed changes to the way we deal with convicts who have been convicted of what they did.

The "determination problem" is wise of you to point out. Will you agree that it will work out in a less dystopian way to try to determine who of the convicted offenders is safe for release and who is too dangerous to release rather than just release them based upon mostly arbitrary sentences such that people who could be safely released remain in prison and people who are dangerous (e.g. unrehabilitated murders and rapists) are released at which point they will probably go victimize more people (e.g. commit murder or rape again)?

If you will let me be anecdotal, I remember hearing of a poor young black man in the U.S. who used an unloaded gun to rob some guy for literally only a few dollars. Later on probation for that robbery, the young man failed a drug test because he had smoked marijuana, and the judge sentenced him to life in prison. I propose my methods because I think they would be much less dystopian then the methods that led to incidents such as that young man getting life in prison.

Even if we are talking about the scariest of offenders, such as murders or rapists, who have been sentenced to life in prison, wouldn't you say it is less dystopian to allow them to get treatment and potentially be deemed safe for release than just left in prison?

When including convicts who would be sentenced to less than life in the current system, isn't it less dystopian to let the convicts who probably won't hurt anyone else go and keep the convicts who probably will hurt more people incarcerated than vice versa?

Of course, I'm not so obtuse that I can't see how my ideas could be abused by power-hungry, authoritarian governments to create some type of "Clockwork Orange" system in which they start locking up people who don't actually need to be locked up and forcefully drugging and brainwashing the people in the name of treatment and in the name of protecting other people from so-called criminals. The misuse of helpful, desirable ideas by harmfully deceitful tyrants is common. But let's not judge the use of a method by those who claim to use those methods to do something horribly different. Would we give up our support for political freedom because fascists and terrorists claim to support it?

Thanks,
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Post Number:#32  Postby Thoughtless » April 30th, 2008, 7:15 pm

I don't have time to post a long, thoughtful response, but let me just clarify why I think your system would lead to dystopia.

With definite sentences of definite lengths, we may end up with people whose sentences seem too long, but at least those sentences are known by all and definite. When you base release on whether or not someone is "safe", you have no choice but to bestow an official (say, a prison psychiatrist) with the authority to decide what "safe" means.

The real problem is that you can't reinterpret a five-year prison sentence, but you can reinterpret "safeness". And, I believe, just as the problem with communism is that it entrusts officials with an impossible task (administering goods based on true need and appropriating goods and labor based on true ability) and bestows them with far too much power (deciding who needs what and who's capable of doing what), your proposed system would suffer from the same type of problem: the officials would first be charged with determining who is "safe" and who is "not safe", which would give them both far too much power and an impossible task.
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Post Number:#33  Postby Dreamshift » June 26th, 2008, 6:05 pm

We have distinctly forgotten a type of person who goes to prison: the smart, but caught. If I ran a scam business that robbed hundreds of people to the point of bancrupcy what does it matter if I get fined? Let's say I'm rich, filthy stinking I've-got-accounts-in-sweeden rich any fine, no matter the reasonable amount is not something I fear. I'm citing this because what would we do with those higher ups in ENRON who left thousands in the dumps economically? What do they care about a fine? Rob them into bancrucy it doesn't matter, they're smart people and they'll find their way back up a ladder somehow. You have to put these people in prison. THey have no mental illness but the desire to be greedy and get away with it. You can't rehbilitate the genious and greedy,you could try to make them feel guilty and regretful, but really? they rob thousands of millions of dallars and they just get to feel regretful? That's not nearly enough for what they did. REAL criminals are people who are right in the head, but for reasons of personal gain, do things that hurt others. They aren't ill, they aren't incidental in their crimes--they just got caught. You can't change them with pills or thearapy, they do know better, but their personal desires overode that knowledege. You need prision for these people, ONLY these people. Yeah, a flasher doesn't really need a prison sentnce (and doesn't), nor does a mentally handicapped person who kills some one because they were angry (and they don't go to prison either). And yeah, unidentified illnesses in a person can cause them to do things, and yes the shouldn't go to prison. But for those who are mentally healthy and commit crimes for selfgain do deserve to go to prison.

A colombian drug lord might have his share of mental baggage, but he desrves to go to prison for the countless people he had to scilence to make his buck.

An Enron CEO could have been poor and distitute in his childhood, and made him work super hard to get there, and it could have made him feel ok when he smashed peoples faces as he climbed over them on the ladder. (I'm not rolling in it, and so I don't think that being poor makes you do bad things, Good people can be poor too--ruthless people as well) They deserve to go to prison

You can't just fine a company or treat the CEOs of that company when they do something illgal. If you fine them, then its just a math game. If their lawyers tell them that the maximum fine for dumping chemicals into a lake is X amount of dollars, but to dispose of the chemicals is >X amount of dollars, then they'll risk the fine to get away with poisoning an entire ecosystem. You have to do something to them that is more than money or a slap on the wrist that won't cure them of being greedy: prison sentences.
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Post Number:#34  Postby wanabe » December 6th, 2008, 12:02 am

if prisons were run by the community and not the state or federal government it would be better...

house arrest needs to be utilized more especialy for sex/drug offenders

only the violent ones need be locked up and i think, as mentioned, community prisons, a modern day stockade would be far more useful, but rather than a literal stockade, have a house that simply houses criminals instead. notably it would be build differently, but they could be rotated and maintained much easer and recycled for other uses, more over if these prisons were build in an industrial district it would make even more sense their they could be put to work or near farms would also be effective

these are all old ideas that have been tried and the problem with them is security, but thats a problem with every prison. and we should at least get some use from them rather than letting our fears get the best of us with all the money we spend we could attach electrical collars on them in conjunction with a chain gang so if one tries to escape all shocked making the whole thing much more difficult.

i think the worst thing we can do is isolate them from society and let a prison culture develop because that only makes things worse.

as for the mentally ill, the institution is the place for them

nuf said?
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Post Number:#35  Postby Belinda » December 6th, 2008, 4:13 am

I agree with Scott however Thoughtless's objection is good. I can counter Thoughtless's objection, which is based on maintaining the safety of the majority, with the greater advantage of re-education and practical introduction of ex-criminals into the main culture of a free society.

Many criminals cannot learn new behaviour and for these we should apologise and lock them up with the maximium comforts we can afford and consistent with deterrence as long as it takes to keep the rest of us safe.

The free society with maximum human rights and freedom of information is the best guarantor that the above won't be abused.

I can see a problem with this proposal: deterrence may be retribution with a false name. Scott's proposal stands umaltered though, that trying to turn criminals into good enough citizens must be better than injustice,induction into crime through prison, and recidivism.
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Post Number:#36  Postby prodygi » August 30th, 2009, 6:23 am

I agree about victimless crimes but I don't think we should legalive all of that behavior. For example legalizing marijuana is fine, but I don't think crack should be. But I don't believe you should be in prison for crack either. Maybe a type of rehab or something.
With the incidental and some of the nonincidental, I think the laws should take circumstances and context into account.
The rules and laws are supposedly here to help us. Where I live a drug store will only refill a monthly prescription when a month has passed. If I go and get my blood pressure medicine filled, and it should last a month, I can't have it refilled until a month has passed. For ANY reason. Even if my house was burglarized and my pills were stolen. This rule was made to keep insurance companies from having to pay for the prescriptions over and over. But now that its the rule, you can't have them filled even if you offer to pay for them yourself or don't even have insurance.
What I'm trying to say is that if laws were looked for what they were made to accomplish, then they would see that, as in the case with the drug store if I had no insurance, to fill my prescription early that rule doesn't apply to me and so we are breaking no laws/rules.
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Post Number:#37  Postby ape » August 30th, 2009, 3:29 pm

Wanabe's ideas are spot on and tie in with the following:
NUMBERS 35:
9And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
10Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them,

When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
11Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you;
that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.
12And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.

13And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.
15These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them:

that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.
16And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
17And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
18Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

19The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.
20But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;
21Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.

22But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait,

23Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm:
24Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:
25And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.
26But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled;
27And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer
; he shall not be guilty of blood:
28Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.

29So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

30Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
31Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.
32And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.

33So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.

34Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.
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Post Number:#38  Postby Alun » August 30th, 2009, 10:10 pm

wanabe wrote:if prisons were run by the community and not the state or federal government it would be better...

The state is supposed to be run by the community.

Scott, maybe I'm not reading this right, but are you saying that all criminals fall into those three categories?

What about someone who decides that it is easier to get rich be holding up a bank than by working?
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Post Number:#39  Postby wanabe » December 13th, 2009, 4:26 pm

I know what you mean Alun, but the state has a much more direct influence on prison life than the community does. The community should have a greater role than votes.

Alun wrote:What about someone who decides that it is easier to get rich be holding up a bank than by working?


I think Scott's rebuttal would say that they are included in the mentally ill.
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Post Number:#40  Postby Billy » December 13th, 2009, 4:37 pm

Do you think those spending the rest of their life in prisons take this seriously? Do you think the 10 Million prisoners world wide think this is funny?

Did you read my little article an eye for an eye? You are a perfect representative of the fascist attitude I'm trying to elucidate here. The same people who are beaten by the police and imprisoned by the judges actually respect criminal-law. This is exactly the 'miracle of fascism' described by Riech or Deleuze: "the people actually desire their own repression".

I hope you will come to my defense if I loose my freedom and claim responsibility for my ignorance compelled by your rationalization of my insignificant being.

This is an amazing piece of writing that deserves careful analysis: it contains within it all the psychological denial and transferences that constitute auto-repression.

Ever heard of 'Stockholm Syndrome'?


[Edited by Scott]
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Post Number:#41  Postby Juice » December 13th, 2009, 5:33 pm

It may abominable to you but not to me. 8)

I believe it perfectly legitimate for a society to create rules by which all persons choosing to live within that society should do their best to compliment and adhere to peaceable coexistence. I appreciate the fact that I live in a society which respects my rights to peaceably coexistence with well meaning neighbors of all ilks and persuasions by taking the responsibility of reciprocation to bad acts which disrupt my peace, from me, to protect me, and place said responsibility in the hands of a fair and just system. I am content that the society I live in respects the rights of well meaning, peace loving individuals and works to create and maintain a society of responsible, peace loving and accountable individuals regardless of ill defined characterizations.

That there is a place for victimizers to go which will hopefully, eventually, convince them of the value of living with peaceable regards and intent to self and others is a moral and ethical compromise between a fair and just society and its citizens who recognize that each individual is responsible for their own well being and should conduct himself accordingly at all times for the enrichment of the whole of society and not just for selfish emotional, physical or financial gain.

[Edited by Scott]
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Post Number:#42  Postby Billy » December 13th, 2009, 5:55 pm

Is there anyone who doesn't know about the cruelty of the prison system? Everyone knows. So the problem isn't there. Where the problem is, is that the people actually admire those who cage and torment them. People believe that the same police that harass them and beat them are right-doers. The people believe judges are great men and women. No! They are agents in a huge control-by-right-to-command psychic-machine. With pillory and stocks the people willingly tortured each other to death with very little prompting from the authorities. Mob-justice and lynchings show the desire to punish actually has little or nothing to do with the permanent structure buildings: prisons, police stations, law courts, or the array of archetype characters that bring the production together: 'police officer', 'solicitor', 'judge', 'guard'.

But analysis is a slow process and results are difficult to measure. Consciousness raising would be redundant because the people are well aware of the cruelty of 'blood money', and they desire revenge like an American desires money. Prison and police and law-courts are all made up. Like the American dollar, belief in them is their strength. Ideologically, we are as trying to teach people that a loaf of bread has no dollar value; not an easy task. This is why I suggest aiming for the prisons and other physical objects of the regime: hand-cuffs, shackles, bars, narrow confinement.


[Edited by Scott]
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Post Number:#43  Postby wanabe » December 13th, 2009, 6:00 pm

Billy can you reply to my post in your first anti prison thread here. (the one that got locked) I think it would be more progressive.
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Post Number:#44  Postby Billy » December 13th, 2009, 6:20 pm

wanabe wrote:You guys(Billy/Juice) should really stop talking about each other and talk about the issue; and don't turn the issue into each other either.

Billy can you reply to my post in your first anti prison thread here. (the one that got locked) I think it would be more progressive.

Yes, just as soon as I eat some dinner.
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Post Number:#45  Postby wanabe » December 13th, 2009, 7:31 pm

Gentlemen, the issue at hand is what should be done with, or to, the prison system...
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