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how to treat prisoners (potential hot topic)


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#1 Godeskian

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 10:47 AM

Hey all,

Someone who has commited a crime, has been tried (depending on country) by a judge and jury, a judge alone, or some other legal and mostly just system and has been sent to jail.

What kind of treatment do they deserve

one the one hand, the dutch model suggests the only thing you should be depriving them off is freedom, if they want cable TV, internet or anything else, then they can be put to work, earn an average wage, and buy it out of their earnings. they can still vote, call DJ's to request music, and even have access to private rooms for when husbands/wifes or other physical intimates come by.
In every sense of the word they have a normal life, save for the lack of mobility.

the other side of the coin, is more "A rose in the Ashes" like, Prisoners have little to no basic anemities, including food and water, they are often put to work, very physically demanding work, and given little to no access to media, or anything else.

however, this isn't a debtae on which is best, but rather, i'd like to stimulate a debate on what people who commit crimes deserve to have.

have at 'em

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#2 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 11:14 AM

Damn, and here I thought you were talking pows and I was all set to discuss Honor Harrington, the Deneb Accords, and the Peoples' Republic of Haven...;)

But obviously you have something else in mind.

And the answer is I don't know.  I tend to lean away from the ARITA thing.  The opening of that ep talks about how one can judge a society by how it treats its animals, its elders, and its prisoners and I think there's some real truth to that.

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#3 Godeskian

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 02:03 PM

Lil, i would love to debate the Deneb accords, the validity of a prison planet like Cerberus and all the other HH stuff,

but in a different thread,

and further to your comment, should we be treating prisoners as anything else but the scum that they are?

we make laws that are supposed to keep us decent as a society, when people intentionally break those laws, do they then still deserve to be protected by them,

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#4 Shalamar

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 02:18 PM

I would guess that my views are rather harsh.  I feel that prisoners should not have much beyond the basic amenities.

Decent basic housing and food.  
Health care and access to religious institutions/personel.


Being in prison is supposed to be a punishment.
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Respect for One's Self / Respect for Others / Responsibility for One's Words & Actions.

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#5 Christopher

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 06:11 PM

Ohh boy, a potential hot topic... careful, everyone....

It's not a question of what a criminal deserves, because that's purely a subjective judgment.  In the spirit of this forum, we should approach the question scientifically, in terms of what works, what is demonstrably most effective at achieving the goals of the penal system, and what those goals should rationally be.

I do not agree that the purpose is punishment.  Punishment is not an end in itself, but a means to an end -- that end being the protection of the citizenry and the preservation of the social order.  The goal is behavior modification: to take someone who's a danger to others and make it so that s/he is no longer a danger anymore.

And here's where beliefs about what someone "deserves" come most powerfully into conflict with what actually works.  It's a psychological fact that the more you're victimized, the more likely you are to become a victimizer.  Physical and psychological abuse damage the brain and the psyche.  They lower serotonin levels, impair the capacity for empathy, increase antisocial tendencies.

So if you put convicts in traumatic, humiliating, abusive conditions, you're just making them more antisocial, violent and dangerous.  Which totally defeats the goal of a penal system.

The goal of treating prisoners well, of seeking to rehabilitate them rather than to debase and dehumanize them, is not to coddle them or excuse their actions, but to protect the innocent by making the criminals less of a threat.  Vengeance is a foolish pursuit, because in human affairs as in physics an action usually brings an equal and opposite reaction.  The more you hurt someone else, the more you prod them to hurt you and your loved ones in return.

Also, focussing on punishment as the primary response to crime is rather like focussing on burial and cremation as the primary response to disease.  Why wait until after the damage is done?  Our focus should be on prevention -- on understanding the social, economic and behavioral factors that lead people to crime and working to change them so that people don't become criminals in the first place.  There are so many ways to do this that our society virtually ignores, because our politicians are more concerned with looking "tough on crime" and embracing quick fixes than they are with actually doing the hard work of changing society to reduce the occurrence of crime.  The answer to crime is not more prisons, it's more schools, more jobs, more opportunities, and more parental involvement in children's lives.
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#6 Woodmansee

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 03:49 AM

Christopher, on Mar 25 2003, 03:02 PM, said:

The goal is behavior modification: to take someone who's a danger to others and make it so that s/he is no longer a danger anymore.

Christopher, I disagree with your stated goal. Once someone is a danger to others, it's too late. I think the goal is behavior modification: to deter someone from becoming a danger or disrespectful of the rights of others (so I'm not just talking about violent crime, but theft, vandalism, etc).

One could argue, although I don't necessarily agree, that the harsher the punishment, the greater the deterrence value. Here's how...

There are two aspects to deterrence, the probability of getting caught and punishment. Harsh punishment by itself isn't a deterrent if there isn't a sufficiently high probability to getting caught. But getting caught will not be a deterrent if the punishment is minor either. If someone sees jail as easy, then they will not be deterred by the thought of going to jail.

Rehabilitation rarely works. Is this because we are too harsh and turn criminals into hardened criminals that only commit worse crimes? Possibly.

Deterrence (both probability of getting caught and the punishment) is weighed in the mind of each person against their current situation. If a persons life sucks and they have nothing to lose, then they are more MUCH likely to commit a crime than if they are happy with their situation in life. Crime goes down with economic prosperity and up with economic hardship.

So the first goal of any society must be to raise the standard of living for everyone. This is a self-interested goal, because it reduces crime.

But someone who has been convicted of a crime has a hard life ahead of them even if they want to go straight because their opportunities are limited. Who wants to hire an ex-con when there are others just as qualified? That person has already shown themselves willing to risk punishment when they are in a bad situation, and being an ex-con is a bad situation. That's why they go back to crime. The only way to deter them is to make the probability of their getting caught higher (which is what parole if for) and the punishment so harsh that they don't want to risk going back inside.

Personally I think excessive boredom is a great punishment. Give them nothing to do. No TV, no books, no computers, no sports, nothing. That's the worst punishment I can think of, although psychologically it might be considered excessively cruel.

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#7 AnneZo

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 06:21 AM

I think there should be some discussion of what kind of criminals we're discussing.

I'd advocate very different treatment for a serial killer than I would for someone arrested for not paying taxes, for instance.

Also, I think you have to decide what kind of society you're discussing.  Is it a society where the treatment is supposed to be punative?  Is the "system" looking for revenge or is rehabilitation the issue?

It just isn't that simple of a question.

#8 Godeskian

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 10:20 AM

Actually, i was thinking of the world today, and i asn't overly concerned about the crime as this was the after sentencing and being in jail bit i was curious about
Woodmansee, christopher good point on both sides.

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#9 Broph

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 03:35 PM

Christopher, on Mar 25 2003, 03:02 PM, said:

I do not agree that the purpose is punishment.
I would disagree with that. In addition to protecting society from criminals, you're also telling the criminal that because he can't live by society's rules, he doesn't get to live in the society.

You restrict his movements - you restrict his schedule - you restrict his diet - you restrict his ability to interact with others. It's punishment. And it's meant to be punishment.

#10 Christopher

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 04:35 PM

Woodmansee, on Mar 25 2003, 07:40 PM, said:

Christopher, I disagree with your stated goal. Once someone is a danger to others, it's too late.
I don't think so.  Sure, maybe if they've gotten to the point of being hardened serial killers, their capacity for empathy irretrievably atrophied, then the only thing you can do is keep them away from people they could hurt.  But a 15-year-old running with a gang?  No, it's not too late to save him, if you care enough to make the effort and if you do it the right way instead of just tossing him in a hellish prison which will make him even worse.

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One could argue, although I don't necessarily agree, that the harsher the punishment, the greater the deterrence value. Here's how...

There are two aspects to deterrence, the probability of getting caught and punishment. Harsh punishment by itself isn't a deterrent if there isn't a sufficiently high probability to getting caught. But getting caught will not be a deterrent if the punishment is minor either. If someone sees jail as easy, then they will not be deterred by the thought of going to jail.

But the problem with that is that it assumes criminals have the same motivations that law-abiding people do.  Let's take your argument to its extreme: capital punishment.  The theory is that the threat of death will deter people from committing murder.  But the fact is, the states and countries which use capital punishment the most consistently have the highest homicide rates.  Clearly it isn't a deterrent at all, even though it's the harshest punishment there is.  Why?  Because generally people who kill don't care about their own lives.  Gang members in inner cities often take it for granted that they'll die before they hit 25 -- they feel they have nothing to live for, so they don't fear death.  And people who go on murderous rampages often do so because they want to die, want to commit "suicide by cop" or by capital punishment.

And the environment inside prisons is often more familiar and manageable to the hardened criminal, someone who's grown up with the "law of the jungle" and can easily adjust to the dog-eat-dog conditions of a harsh prison.  It's easier to follow a familiar pattern than to face a new way of living that requires you to examine your own psyche and behavior and learn how to change it.  Ask any therapist or social worker, and they'll tell you that people leading miserable lives often resist the opportunity to improve them.  For that matter, ask me.  I used to have a lousy life, and now I see that there were so many opportunities for improvement that I never let myself take because I was too afraid, because I didn't think I could figure out how, or because in my depression I didn't think I deserved it.

Sure, if people are living comfortable lives, then the threat of a harsher life could be a deterrent.  But the worst criminals are already living miserable lives, which is why they're criminals in the first place.  Many or most are victims of abuse, and have been told since childhood by their parents or by society that they're inferior and unworthy.  They're used to a life of suffering, they expect it, they even feel they deserve it, so the threat of a harsh imprisonment doesn't frighten them.

You can't change people's behavior just by threatening them, anyway.  Maybe white-collar types might be afraid of prison, but they'll still commit crimes whenever they think they can get away with it.  Morality based on the fear of punishment isn't morality at all, and it only works if people think they're being watched.  Morality has to be internalized -- people have to be raised or rehabilitated to base their decisions not on the possible consequences to themselves, but on their understanding and concern for the consequences to others.  That way they'll do the right thing whether they're being watched or not.

The key to rehabilitation is teaching people to take responsibility for their own actions, for the consequences their actions have on others.  To get them to stop blaming other people or circumstances for their own choices, and recognize that what they do is their responsibility alone.  So if you try to get them to make their decisions based on the threat of being punished, you're just encouraging them to keep basing their decisions on external factors.  If they get caught and punished, they'll blame it on the system rather than on their own actions and choices.  And it won't change them at all.  It won't make them understand the wrongness of what they've done.  It takes counselling and therapy to get people to recognize that they're responsible for their own choices, and that's the only way they'll ever stop being dangerous to others.

I've seen it with children.  If the only reason you give them for not doing something is "Because I'll punish you if you do it," then they'll do it as soon as your back is turned.  But if you explain to them how their actions could have negative consequences for other people, then they won't do it, unless they're already substantially maladjusted.

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Rehabilitation rarely works. Is this because we are too harsh and turn criminals into hardened criminals that only commit worse crimes? Possibly.

Undoubtedly.  There are rehabilitation programs out there which have demonstrated consistent success.  Our society just doesn't embrace them because we're too wrapped up in punishment-based ideologies that are more driven by political agendas than actual data.

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If a persons life sucks and they have nothing to lose, then they are more MUCH likely to commit a crime than if they are happy with their situation in life. Crime goes down with economic prosperity and up with economic hardship.

So the first goal of any society must be to raise the standard of living for everyone. This is a self-interested goal, because it reduces crime.

Exactly.  Crime is an effect, so to deal with it we have to deal with its causes first and foremost.

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But someone who has been convicted of a crime has a hard life ahead of them even if they want to go straight because their opportunities are limited. Who wants to hire an ex-con when there are others just as qualified?

This is another thing that society has to change if we want to reduce the incidence of crime.  If we assume that someone who's made a mistake is irredeemable, then we create an atmosphere that's hostile to rehabilitation and guarantee that it can't work.  And that makes us as culpable as the criminals.

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That person has already shown themselves willing to risk punishment when they are in a bad situation, and being an ex-con is a bad situation. That's why they go back to crime. The only way to deter them is to make the probability of their getting caught higher (which is what parole if for) and the punishment so harsh that they don't want to risk going back inside.

See, that seems like a diminishing-returns spiral to me.  As I already said, if they're willing to risk punishment, then just upping the punishment isn't likely to have much impact.  Besides, because our prisons are so harsh, they just damage people more, make them more antisocial and full of self-hate, and so they'll care even less about the consequences.  Our current prison system couldn't be better designed to make criminals into worse, more dangerous criminals, which just requires us to build more, bigger and harsher prisons, drain our economy further and deprive our workforce of more people who could've been trained to lead productive lives.

If someone's shown himself willing to risk punishment, you need to understand why that's the case -- probably because he doesn't much care about his own welfare, because he doesn't consider himself worthwhile.  Depression, abuse, psychological aberration.  If you can change the way he thinks about himself and his relation to those around him, you can change the way he behaves.  Instead of just getting into a feedback loop -- you punish him worse, so he becomes more dangerous, so you punish him even worse, so he gets even more dangerous -- you break the cycle by taking him in a whole different direction.

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Personally I think excessive boredom is a great punishment. Give them nothing to do. No TV, no books, no computers, no sports, nothing. That's the worst punishment I can think of, although psychologically it might be considered excessively cruel.

Oh, exactly, that would be horribly counterproductive.  It wouldn't make anyone safer.  Crime is antisocial behavior, based on an inability to empathize with others.  Isolating people from social interaction and mental/emotional stimulation causes the atrophy of the parts of their brain involved with social interactions and emotions.  It diminishes their capacity to feel empathy.

Children who are neglected by their parents, who are abandoned in front of the TV rather than interacted with, talked to, held, played with, will grow up with less social function and empathy as a result.  It makes them more likely to engage in antisocial, selfish, or violent behavior.  If they're started down that path and become criminals, then isolating them and letting their social functioning atrophy still further is self-defeating, because it just guarantees they'll become even worse.
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#11 Woodmansee

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 10:44 PM

Christopher, in fact I agree with almost everything you're saying. Tossing people in hellish prisons doesn't fix things. I'm mostly taking a contrary position for discussion sake.

Christopher said:

But a 15-year-old running with a gang?  No, it's not too late to save him, if you care enough to make the effort and if you do it the right way instead of just tossing him in a hellish prison that will make him even worse.

It depends on the person. Some 15-year old gang members it may very well be too late to reform. Many times it's not too late, and a hellish prison does more harm than good. But it's more efficient to make the 15-year old's life better in the first place so that he doesn't want to joint he gang and do the crimes. This is done by making sure he gets good means, parental support (not abuse), good education, good living conditions (food clothing living space, etc), and activities that he is interested in - such as sport, clubs, etc instead of idle time. It's easier for me to say than it is to do.

Christopher said:

But the problem with that is that it assumes criminals have the same motivations that law-abiding people do.

I assume that criminals are human just like you and me. Anyone who is pushed over the line (i.e. crime looks better than their bad situation) can become a criminal. But by increasing the chance of getting caught and giving them a punishment they care about, you can deter them.

Christopher said:

Clearly it isn't a deterrent at all, even though it's the harshest punishment there is.  Why?  Because generally people who kill don't care about their own lives.

You've made my point. The punishment, in this case death, is not the right one for them because they don't care if they die or not. Therefore this is the wrong punishment for them. Perhaps humiliation, boredom, or something they care about avoiding is better. Or perhaps they are too far gone to be rehabilitiated and it's just better to get them off the face of the Earth, i.e. kill them, so they don't hurt others.

The basic problem is still that their lives are so bad they don't care if they die, and that's what needs to be changed.

Christopher said:

People who go on murderous rampages often do so because they want to die, want to commit "suicide by cop

Psychotics are a different problem and need to be dealt with differently. I am not talking about the psychotic illnesses, which needs to be dealt with as an illness (therapy and in many cases drugs). I do not subscribe to the theory that all criminals are insane. Some are and they need to be dealt with differently.

Christopher said:

I've seen it with children.  If the only reason you give them for not doing something is "Because I'll punish you if you do it," then they'll do it as soon as your back is turned.  But if you explain to them how their actions could have negative consequences for other people, then they won't do it, unless they're already substantially maladjusted.

But when your back is turned they are convinced they won't get caught, that's why the punishment doesn't deter in that case. However, I agree with your point that getting them to see the consequences and take responsibility. Empathy is the key to teaching people to act responsibly. I'm just not convinced that everyone has empathy, most people do, but not all.

My basic points are:
- Improving living conditions is the best way to decrease crime
- I agree that teaching responsibility can work in may cases
- but you still need higher probabilities of getting caught
- and you need a punishment that potential criminals fear

You cannot neglect the punishment aspect of the equasion. But Christopher, I agree that the problem with our society today is the emphasis is on punishment, and somewhat on deterrence, and neglects the first two points.

Paul

#12 Rhea

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 11:45 PM

I think you're obligated to provide food, medical care, adequate sleeping and sanitary arrangements and the opportunity to observe one's religion and receive mail/packages from home (with screening, as in no bombs or files :p). Outside of that, I'm not sure that anything else is required.

Edited to add: Oh, wait, now we're talking about criminals as opposed to POW's? Meep!  :eek2:  :eek2: When you said prisoners, I immediately thought POW's.

For me, the prison question is too complex and without a satisfactory answer, so I'll just tag along and read everyone else's answer.

Edited by Rhea, 26 March 2003 - 11:48 PM.

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#13 Christopher

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 02:39 AM

Woodmansee, on Mar 26 2003, 02:35 PM, said:

Christopher said:

But the problem with that is that it assumes criminals have the same motivations that law-abiding people do.
I assume that criminals are human just like you and me.
Yeah, but there's a range of human reactions.  Someone who's had a traumatic, abusive or neglected childhood is going to have different psychological responses than someone who's had a healthy upbringing.  As you said, it depends on the person.  People don't become criminals at random, but because of their life experiences.  Yes, we all have certain things in common, but they manifest in different ways.  We're all more comfortable in familiar surroundings that we understand.  So someone who's led a comfortable life will feel more threatened by the prospect of being placed in a harsh, law-of-the-jungle environment than someone who's grown up in that kind of environment will be.

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Christopher said:

Clearly it isn't a deterrent at all, even though it's the harshest punishment there is.  Why?  Because generally people who kill don't care about their own lives.

You've made my point. The punishment, in this case death, is not the right one for them because they don't care if they die or not. Therefore this is the wrong punishment for them.

The thing is, I can't think of a category of murderer who would be deterred by this threat.  Sociopaths, gang members and the like either want to die or expect to die young or have too rotten a life to care.  A more "white-collar" kind of murderer, someone who kills for power and wealth, may fear death, but is convinced that his power or brains will let him get away with it.  And someone who wouldn't normally be a killer but lashes out in a crime of passion isn't going to be thinking about the consequences.

And the data speak for themselves -- capital punishment correlates with more homicide, not less.

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Psychotics are a different problem and need to be dealt with differently. I am not talking about the psychotic illnesses, which needs to be dealt with as an illness (therapy and in many cases drugs). I do not subscribe to the theory that all criminals are insane. Some are and they need to be dealt with differently.

Well, there's a whole spectrum of psychological disorder between "sane" and "insane."  As I've discussed, abuse, neglect and touch deprivation can impair our capacity for socialization and empathy.  This can be something as simple as a man who wasn't shown affection as a child having trouble with emotional intimacy or sensitivity to others' feelings.  It's not just being a jerk, it's the result of actual neurological damage, the atrophy of a part of the brain that fails to get needed stimulation.  A more severe impairment results in heightened aggression and disregard for the well-being of others.  I think most antisocial behavior, including violent crime, is a psychopathology, even though most of it doesn't rise to the level of outright psychosis.

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Empathy is the key to teaching people to act responsibly. I'm just not convinced that everyone has empathy, most people do, but not all.

The capacity for empathy is wired into our brains.  Some people are born with a greater capacity than others, but how much that capacity is developed depends on how much stimulation it gets (no different from any other inborn potential like athletic ability or musical skill).  I read about this after the Columbine shootings, all the articles about how any kid could end up like this. Some people are born with an impaired potential for empathy and socialization -- that part of the brain I mentioned before starts out incompletely formed.  If they're neglected or abused, it can deaden their ability to care about other human beings, and they end up capable of the most horrific atrocities.  But if infants born with this impairment are raised in a loving, nurturing, attentive, stimulating environment, that can compensate for the inborn deficiency, just as you can compensate for a physical weakness with enough training and attention, and those children will grow up just as capable of empathy as anyone else.  It's a mix of nature and nurture.

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My basic points are:
- Improving living conditions is the best way to decrease crime
- I agree that teaching responsibility can work in may cases
- but you still need higher probabilities of getting caught
- and you need a punishment that potential criminals fear

You cannot neglect the punishment aspect of the equasion. But Christopher, I agree that the problem with our society today is the emphasis is on punishment, and somewhat on deterrence, and neglects the first two points.

Okay, I do agree there is a value to deterrence, to guaranteeing some level of undesirable consequences for misbehavior -- just so long as that penalty isn't taken to an abusive degree that defeats the whole purpose, and so long as it's just part of the overall strategy.  Positive reinforcement is the most effective tool, but it needs negative reinforcement in moderation to back it up.  And some forms of negative reinforcement are more constructive than others.  If your kids trample the neighbors' flowerbed, is it better just to send them to their rooms, or to make them replant the flowers?
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#14 AnneZo

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 03:04 AM

Just to complicate matters, here's an article about forcibly medicating prisoners so as to make them competent to be executed.

Medicating on death row.

There are a number of thorny problems raised by this one.

#15 Broph

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 03:25 PM

^Wow - very interesting story. As you said - some thorny problems! The death penalty itself is a very hot topic - should we ever kill anybody, are there people who "deserve" to die for their crimes, is a life in prison actually worse than being put to death? Add this into the mix and you've got a lot to think about!

#16 Julie

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 12:50 AM

I don't want to change the topic to capital punishment, but there's one point I have to ask about:

Christopher, on Mar 26 2003, 06:28 PM, said:

And the data speak for themselves -- capital punishment correlates with more homicide, not less.

Are you sure you're not reading into the data too much?  If all you know is that

"Areas that use capital punishment most often also have the most homicides"

then you don't know which is the cause and which is the effect.  While I'm not saying your conclusion is wrong, couldn't it also be that capital punishment is used more often because there are more homicides?  

Maybe the state hopes harsher punishments will decrease the number of murders.  Maybe there's pressure to keep the number of inmates in overpopulated prisons down.  Or maybe it's just the obvious fact that more people are sentenced when more crimes are committed.

That is, unless your data shows that the number of death sentences is upped, and then there is a noticable increase in the percentage of the population commiting homicides-- and even then there's other factors to be taken into consideration.

#17 Christopher

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 02:59 AM

Julie, on Apr 1 2003, 04:39 PM, said:

Christopher, on Mar 26 2003, 06:28 PM, said:

And the data speak for themselves -- capital punishment correlates with more homicide, not less.

Are you sure you're not reading into the data too much?  If all you know is that

"Areas that use capital punishment most often also have the most homicides"

then you don't know which is the cause and which is the effect.  While I'm not saying your conclusion is wrong, couldn't it also be that capital punishment is used more often because there are more homicides?
First of all, you're misreading my comment.  I said only that capital punishment correlates with higher homicide rates.  The word "correlates" only means they go together -- it does not imply a causal relationship one way or the other.

However, even if your interpretation is right, it still demonstrates that capital punishment is unsuccessful as a deterrent to homicide, which was my actual point.  By definition, if it were a deterrent then it would correlate with lower homicide rates.
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#18 Kevin Street

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 03:53 AM

This is just a sideline to the main thrust of this thread (great discussion here, guys! :) ) - but I think there's one dimension to the problem of crime and punishment that's often completely overlooked: restitution.

It just isn't right that a criminal can hurt, maim, kill, rape, rob, and/or defraud someone and then never have to share in any of the victim's suffering. The criminal becomes a prisoner and goes to jail, and that might be the last time they ever think about their victims. They spend years locked away from society, and more often than not, learn nothing from the experience.

I don't know how it would work, exactly, but in my ideal justice system, criminals would be obligated to provide some kind of restitution to their victims. It couldn't be one for one, like in the Bible - not "An Eye For An Eye" - but it might take the form of financial restitution (at least in the case of property and whitecollar crime), or maybe forced labor with any benefits going to the victim. Something that obligates the prisoner to pay off their debt, anyway. And it might take a long time, even years, to do it.

I don't know, it's just an idea.
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#19 G1223

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 04:47 AM

First  the punishment as well as the reibilatation  must be more fitting to the crimes.

I agree cutting things to the basics would be a first step. Then allowing expansion based on behavior or retraction of wrong behavior would be some of the steps.

An example of the 15 gang leader. It depends on what crime he is charged with. Murder is different theft.  Say the kid murders someone  I agree placing him in a adult enviroment because  he has taken a life and he needs to see first where his life will go if he does not break himself free of the place he is at.  

Now as to Murder I still support the death penalty as there are some beings I do not want to be ever able to escape. I also  agree that a full determanation of guilt must be done before the sentece is carried out.

Now I support death by harvesting. It is where he subject is kept till his organs are needed for a transplant  then it is taken. When a vital organ is needed the patient is harvested for organs blood retneas bone marrow skin for grafting and what ever  other materials can be made to at lweast make the prisoner have sort of useful role in the world.
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#20 Christopher

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 05:35 AM

Kevin Street, on Apr 1 2003, 07:42 PM, said:

I don't know how it would work, exactly, but in my ideal justice system, criminals would be obligated to provide some kind of restitution to their victims....

I don't know, it's just an idea.
These days, mediation is becoming very popular as an alternative to jury trials -- both sides working out a compromise or resolution with each other rather than fighting against each other.  Intriguingly, it's actually being used in a number of criminal cases as well as civil cases.  I don't know specifics, but I'd imagine that working out an equitable restitution is often a key part of the process.

And I find this very promising.  As I mentioned, the crucial step in reforming one's behavior is to take responsibility for it.  Our adversarial legal system encourages people to evade and deny responsibility at all costs, thus working against reform and rehabilitation.  But mediation requires the wrongdoer to acknowledge the harm they've done and to play a role in determining proper restitution.  Kind of like if you discipline a child and ask the child what they think an appropriate discipline should be.  It gets them thinking about why their acts have consequences, rather than just seeing consequences as some arbitrary inconvenience to be avoided.
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