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minavasht Donating Member (353 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:11 PM
Original message
Why criminals should go to prison?
Lets forget for a moment the gun issue.
I still dont understand why the prison time is considered a fair punishment for ones crimes. Or is it a punishment? May be some people hope it will correct the criminals?
What do you think?

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shoelace414 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:12 PM
Response to Original message
1. what do you suggest?
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minavasht Donating Member (353 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
But couples of years in jail, with food served 3 times a day, fitness, free health care and the likes somehow dont seem to me a fair punishment for ruining somebodys live.

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skippythwndrdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-21-04 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #6
16. It ain't no picnic.
Room, board, clothing, legal assistance, medical care, etc.

I worked a a max security prison, with an electric chair and all the trimmings, for several years. I know a bit about incarceration.

Here are some of the things a weak sister on the cell block can expect:

Near daily sexual assault
Theft of all possessions right down to your toothbrush
Paying protection with goods purchased through the inmate canteen (no "green money" allowed), muling drugs for the inmates in the upper tiers of the inmate hierarchy (this usually means kuestering them (stuffing them up your butt in a baggie) until the other inmate wants them for use or trade, and the odd sexual favor (either oral or anal sex wherever it's handy for the other inmate, usually in front of several others who are acting as lookouts, in order to enhance the "pitcher's" stature within the hierarchy.
You get the idea.

Of course, the "strong" inamtes only have to deal with constant challenges to their position, being out of a 6X9 cell for 8 hours a day or less and in the case of our system here, eating some form of turkey 21 meals a week (turkey is very cheap).

Oh yeah. The medical care is wonderful. The doc at our facility had his privileges pulled by every hospital within a 50 mile radius because of numerous malpractice suits. The "Nut Doctor" (psychiatrist) came in once a month. He'd also lost privileges for malpractice. If an inmate was lucky enough to get a cast for a broken limb, he also got placed in Segregation: no contact with other inamtes, all meals brought to his cell, and one hour out per day in the inside gym to walk or shoot hoops by himself. Casts are wonderful places to hide contraband.

Inmates may get lucky and work in Prison Industries. In that case, they got $0.10 per hour for a 6 hour day and got to get strip searched twice a day in addition to all the other wonderful offerings behind the fence. Did I mention that the cost of getting a job was usually a carton of cigarettes aweek? Not to the guards; to the inmate "running" PI. How does one guy run it? It's simple: he has the most juice on the yard and if anyone applies for a job without paying him, they can expect a crippling beating.

Yup. It's a cakewalk behind bars.
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NC_Nurse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:16 PM
Response to Original message
2. I think it's a big industry and getting bigger by the minute. That's why
so many people have to go rather than do something more productive as a rehab thing. Big business is involved in it, just like we need more wars to support the military/arms industry. :eyes:

People who commit drug and property crimes should not be in prison, IMO. They should be in drug rehabs, under house arrest, in community service programs, job training progrmas, etc.
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TX-RAT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. drug and property crimes should not be in prison?
I disagree on the property crimes.
How about a victim-less crime, that i will agree on.
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gatlingforme Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #2
11. Usually with a drug crime there is violence involved. You have
the seller of drugs and the user of drugs. There is a huge difference who is selling and who is using. Usually the seller is associated with the more violent crimes i.e murder. The user is into petty crimes that usually escalates to more violent offenses. It's a big game of who narcs on who and the ones that must pay are the citizens.
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Bowline Donating Member (670 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-22-04 09:23 AM
Response to Reply #2
20. They should be working and paying compensation to their victims.
Decriminalize drugs and a large portion of the prison population would go home tomorrow.
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MrSandman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. Try enfocement and punishment...
Under federal law felons, drug dealers and other specified individuals can face up to life in prison for illegally possessing a gun or ammunition. Enforcement helps reduce gun violence in several ways:

It reinforces the message that the community will not tolerate gun violence.
It removes serious violent offenders from the streets and from our neighborhoods.
It increases the risk faced by potential offenders.

Or let violent criminals try their hand at retail sales.
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NC_Nurse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:25 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. I meant non-violent offenders
Not violent offenders.

There are a whole lot more non-violent offenders in jail than violent. We could save a whole lot of money and turn around a lot more lives in other ways.

For violent ofenders, prison is appropriate.
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MrSandman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. I was unaware...
There are a whole lot more non-violent offenders in jail than violent. We could save a whole lot of money and turn around a lot more lives in other ways.

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skippythwndrdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-21-04 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #9
17. Gotta be very careful with "nonviolent"
Many states' legal and correctional systems do NOT view murder as a violent crime.

I know whereof I speak, having worked for several years in corrections starting as a guard and ending as a shift captain.
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MrSandman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-21-04 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. I was quoting #3...
I didn't know that is the case. Still Don't.
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skippythwndrdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-21-04 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Apologies. Clicked before I scrolled back up high enough.
The nonviolent number is actually higher than the violent number incarcerated.

In contrast to the obvious physical harm done by violent criminals, nonviolent criminals often place greater hardships on their victims. Enron is a fine example. Most folks heal physically much faster than they can replace the money lost in a nonviolent crime. I daresay that the psychological trauma of being wiped out financially rivals the psychological trauma of a physical attack or injury IMHO.
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MrSandman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-22-04 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. As you observed...
Edited on Thu Jul-22-04 05:50 PM by MrSandman

ed for ellipsis abuse...s
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JayS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. I like this program. We have had it here for about a year...
...or so now.
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MrSandman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-20-04 06:29 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. I love their posters...
Gotta get me one.
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Bluzmann57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
4. So just what would you do with criminals?
I agree that drug users(not big time dealers) and other non-violent criminals should not be incarcerated with violent people, but there has to be a way to keep these dregs off the streets so that decent law abiding people can feel safe. What do you want to do, let them try anf rehab in a halfway house? An awful lot of criminals just should never see freedom again. Having said this, I have been guilty of drinking and driving and drug use in my past, so do not go all high and mighty on me. Been there and done that. Never ever robbed anyone though, never ever sexually abused anyone, never ever beat anyone to a pulp. Get the point? Violent criminals need to be locked up, and if they are rehabbed when, and if they get out, so much the better.
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JayS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:20 PM
Response to Original message
5. Retribution, Revenge, Resocialization, Rehabilitation.
Those are the common reasons for incarcerating someone. You can tell where the emphasis lies these days.

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JayS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-20-04 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #5
12. There is one more "R" but I forgot what it is.... n/t
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-20-04 09:19 PM
Response to Original message
14.  A Law without a Punishment is not a Real Law.
Edited on Tue Jul-20-04 09:30 PM by happyslug
Law is how a society (any society) organizes itself. Law serves two purposes, first is to unite people. It tells a people "we are one", and the law is how "we" will preserve our concept of being one. Disputes within the group will be handled by the "law", not by the members acting by themselves against they fellow members of the group.

The second purpose of the Law is to help protect the group from outsiders (More of what is needed for Military operations then what is being discussed here, but can be a factor when members of society have divergent views of what the law should be and that divergence leads to a break down of Society often into two or more new groups).

Thus when you have people you have law. On the other hand is the old saying "A law without a Punishment is NOT a real law". If you have a law but if you break it nothing happens to you, it is NOT a real law. You can break it with impunity for society does not really care one way or another about it.

Thus to have an effective "law", the law has to have a punishment. Now per-modern people had laws with punishment, but often the primitive punishments could be "brought off" upon payment of some sort of "fine". This evolved into the modern concept of lawsuits (if you are harmed do to a violation of the "law" you can get compensation from the law breaker to the extent of the harm the violation of the law caused you). This type of "money justice" was quite common in per-industrial Europe for the simple reason it did a better job of putting the victim back into the position he (or she) had been before the violation of the law than did an other type of punishment. This extended even to Murder, provided the murderer could come up with the money.

As I said this type of Justice survives in the form of the "Lawsuit". Often it is a better system than the criminal justice system but some people just did not have the means to buy off the family their harms by their illegal action and that victim wanted the law to somehow punish the law breaker. It is from this failure of the Civil Law system that the Criminal Justice system came into existence. From its start the Criminal Law System has always been aimed at people who did not have assets. Assets could be used to pay off any person who would bring a Criminal Prosecution (For example if someone killed someone, that victim's wife, children, parents of other family member would be better off if the Murderer paid them money to compensate for the loss of life of the victim than if the Murderer was executed and paid them nothing).

On the other hand the Kings and Queens of England preferred to make sure any potential enemy was killed rather than have such enemies pay them off (Through this is NOT always the case, Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I all were willing to take money from religious dissenters rather than executing them, money talks, Bullshits walks).

With the arrival of Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth Criminal Law became more important than Civil Litigation (More to keep the poor from revolting than any desire for Criminal Law over Civil Law). With the Restoration of King Charles II, Criminal law (and especially Police) fell into disfavor. Public Prosecutors and Police would not re-occur in the Common Law Jurisdiction till the 1830s and than first in America and than Britain (And in both cases the result of more and more poor people who had no money to pay Judgments and therefore only really feared the Criminal law).

Now in this period (Roughly 1660-1830) Criminal law existed but by private prosecution only (I.e. if you were harmed you had to bring the Criminal Action yourself, the state would not do it, even if the charge was murder). One side affect of this was that criminals In England would be given a choice BEFORE THEY WERE EVEN BROUGHT UP ON CHARGES, Go to America (and have the Charges drop and what ever the Captain of the ship the criminal shipped out on spitting with the Victim whatever the Captain received for the now Indentured Servant) or be brought up on charges that could lead to the Death Penalty. Most Criminals Jumped at the offer (Under International Law at the time it was illegal to ship charged or convicted Felons overseas, by making the offer BEFORE CHARGES were brought this was avoided, thus most Criminals shipped to America had never been convicted of any Crime and their shipment was NOT a violation of International law).

Please note by the 1780s England no longer cared about the International Law against shipping felons overseas and started to do so to Australia. Compared to Australia few CONVICTED OR CHARGED Felons were Shipped to America during America's Colonial period (But a lot of Criminals who had agreed to go to America to avoid Prosecution had been). This export of Criminals were to have a factor in the History of both America and Australia.

Now I went over the history prior to 1830s to give you an idea of where the Criminal Justice System started from. In the 1830s radical changes where adopted first in America and later in England. First Police were adopted to watch the new Immigrants in the new Urban and growing Urban Areas. This was followed by the adoption of "District Attorneys" to bring Criminal Charges against Criminals when the Victim could not afford their own Lawyer to bring the Criminal Charge (Quickly extended to bring ALL Criminal Charges no matter how rich the Victim was).

At the same time the "Penitentiary" was invented. Prior to the 1830s you had Jails, but Jails were just to hold people till Trial. Jails were NEVER intended to hold people as Punishment (In fact most Jails permitted any person being held in the jail to furnish his or hers cell as he or she pleased, including bring in furniture and rugs, for Jail was NOT punishment but a place to hold someone till Trial).

The Penitentiary was something different. It was intended as Punishment. Prior to the Penitentiary the punishment of Crimes where either Death, Mutilation, Corporal, Exile, or a Fine. Long term Incarnation was NOT an option.

Now Mutilation has always been a popular punishment (For example the Muslim's rule of Cutting off the hands of a Thief, a system not only used by Muslims but by other cultures when it come to thieves). Mutilation had problems, the biggest problem was how was the person to earn a living? The Christian Churches (Both Catholic and Protestant) tended to oppose such mutilation but it survived to very recent times. In Colonial times an escaped Indenture Servant had his ear lobs cut off to show he had escaped at least once (and permitted any Sheriff to arrest any one with such cut off ear lobs and sell him as an escaped indentured Servant unless he could prove he was not). I will avoid what Slave owners did to their escaped slaves, that was NOT part of the Criminal Justice System since Slaves were Property, but if the Law permitted the cutting off of ear lobs for a White man's escaping you can guess what an escaped black slave could suffer (Sort of Death).

The Second from of Punishment was Corporal Punishment, either the Stocks or the whipping. This was quite common for misdemeanors in the 1800s, you read about people getting 100-200 lashes at a time (Sometime MORE but over a period of time). The problem with the lash is that it an lead to the death of the person being punished even if that was NOT the intention of law. Corporal punishment fell into disfavor as the 1800s progressed, but more do to the fact that if the person died from the lashing the person doing the lashing could be made to pay for the death. Thus outside of the Military it appears to be dead by the 1860s (and barely survived in the Military till the 1900 through more by being in the "book" than actual being administrated). During the 1892 Homestead Strike a Soldiers watching over the strikers was heard saying "Three Cheers for the man who shot Frick" right after he heard of the attempted assassination of Frick. He was punished by being hanged by his thumbs. After he was discharged he brought criminal charges against his commander for the punishment, the Commander avoided prosecution only on the grounds that such punishment had been done doing the Civil War (30 years before) AND the Soldiers First Sargent had given him a plug of tobacco to chew on so he would quickly go unconscious while being hanged (and this lessen the amount of pain endured). Pennsylvania outlawed such punishment right afterwords but it shows that Corporal Punishment lasted till almost 1900 (and in schools lasted while into the 1980s and in some cases to this day but no where near the level of pain endured by adults in the 1800s and 1900s).

As explained above Exile has been disfavored by International Law for Centuries, it has existed for Centuries also. Even today you hear of people being given a one way ticket out of town and told NEVER to come back. It violates the Constitution but most people Exiled do not complain, they like the fact they avoided Jail time. Exile is simply NOT a viable option for most crimes (But for minor offenses still done).

Fine is another means of punishment, but is only effective if someone has the money to pay the fine. If no money (or an inability to earn money to pay the fine) the fine is ineffective unless tied in with some other sort of punishment for non-payment (Most often Jail time).

Death was the last type of punishment. Death was imposed when the above were not viable punishments. Prior to the American Revolution Death was more a threat to encourage settlement of the Charge BEFORE the Criminal was charged, but as less and less Criminals could re-pay the victim either by their own money or by becoming indentured, more and more people where charged and convicted and than sentenced to death.

The practice in the late 1700s was to convict the person to death and than have the King issue a Pardon reducing the sentence to a flogging or work for someone with the felon's wages going to pay his keep (plus starting in the 1780s with Exile to Australia). Imprisonment was rare. Exile to Australia was only a partial solution, something else had to do.

Death had the further problem of encouraging criminals to go all the way in a crime. In the late 1700s it was the Death Sentence to be pick pocket, but it was rare for a pick pocket to be convicted and most who were sentenced to death the sentence was commuted. The chief reason for this was if a pick pocket was caught by the person whose pocket he was picking, the knowledge that he might be hanged encouraged the Pick pocket to go to extremes to gain his freedom, up to and including murdering the person who caught him. The sentence for Pick Pocketing and Murder was the same, death. It was the knowledge that Pick Pockets rarely were executed (but Murderers often were) gave incentive to the Pick Pocket NOT to kill the person who caught them in the act.

This rule of proportionality of the law, that a law should NOT encourage people to go to extremes, is the heart of any penal system. Rape is NOT subject to the death Penalty not because Society wants to encourage rape but Society do not want to give the rapist incentive to MURDER the rape victim. Society wants the Victim to live, but if the Punishment is the same for Rape and Murder, the Rapist has every reason to KILL his victim for the Victim's death does NOT increase his punishment (and may make it harder to convict the Rapist of the rape, no victim to testify).

Societies have had to handle violation of the "Law". Death, Mutilation, Corporal punishment, Exile, and even fines have all been found to be wanting as a form of Punishment. Furthermore Death had been found to severe for most crimes, even if any lesser punishment was viewed as "to weak" do to the above concept of proportionality. Something was needed and the Penitentiary was it.

The Penitentiary had several things going for it, first unlike Mutilation once the person finished his sentence he could earn his own keep, unlike Corporal punishment it did not lead to inadvertent death do to the punishment, and unlike Exile your neighboring states did not ship the Criminal right back to your state. The Penitentiary was also better than the Death Sentence for it could be proportional to the Crime.

In the 1830s two systems of Penitentiaries were adopted the "Pennsylvania System" and the "Auburn System". The Pennsylvania System was simple solitary confinement and Manual labor as part of a rehabilitation system. The Auburn was group labor gang in a Factory setting. By the 1860s as the main means to produce goods evolved from sole proprietorships to the modern factories, both systems evolved into factory type systems to produce goods both for the inmates and the outside markets. Rehabilitation became secondary to reducing costs by having the inmates do more and more of the work in the Prison. This Continued till the 1930s when another push for Rehabilitation took place but since the 1960s the push has been on punishment more than rehabilitation.

Since the 1980s you have had a push for more and more punishment as opposed to Rehabilitation. This increase punishment has often violated the concept of Proportionality in that equal punishments exists for crimes of different extremes. Mostly in the drug crimes, in that dealing in drugs is treated worse than violate crime, thus if you are a drug dealing rather than have your stash confiscated by the Police, you have every incentive to make a break for it or even shot it out with the police rather than spend the next 20 years of your life in Prison.

A "good" system of Justice encourages such criminals to put up their hands and NOT fight the Police. A good system says 1- 2 years for drug dealing, but if you fight the police 10-20. Drug dealers would quickly get the message and surrender rather than fight.
But the Legislature has ignore the whole concept of Proportionality because it is easier to say "I am tough on Crime" than to say "The best way to prevent our Police officer from being shot is to make the Criminal know he just increases his sentence if he resists arrest, but to do that means low punishment for drug offenses and other non-violate crimes that society want to outlaw".

For more information on Crime and Prison see the following:

Pennsylvania Prison Society:

Punishment of Indentured Servants during the Colonial Periods:

Pennsylvania Prison System - History |

History of New York State Prison System:

De Tocqueville Report on American Prisons in the 1830s:

Charles Dickens and Pennsylvania Eastern State Prison:

Stories from Pennsylvania Prisons:

The Modern Pennsylvania System: Super max prisons:

On Corporal Punishment today:

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minavasht Donating Member (353 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-21-04 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Thank you!
I have to think it over for a while.
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