Prison abolition

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Jennym
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Prison abolition

Postby Jennym » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:15 am UTC

Oddly, I learned about this from here: http://vegansofcolor.wordpress.com/2009 ... /#comments

So what do you think? I think rehabilitation and community service is workable in some cases and should be more avaliable(I personally am against the death penalty), but my question would be what about those who can't be rehabilitated? Any members here part of the movement? What are your thoughts?

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Vaniver
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby Vaniver » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:07 am UTC

It's difficult to get people to agree on what should be illegal, let alone what should be done to people that break the law.

Personally, I prefer a rehabilitative approach- but it is worrisome that there are signs that a rehabilitative approach is incomplete. A sickening number of people in prison have suffered head trauma during their lives, and probably have reduced impulse control as a result. Regardless of remorse or personal growth, can they ever not be a danger to others? Is there a dehumanizing effect involved with looking at criminals as though they are broken, rather than people who willfully choose to disobey? Should society use force to bend people to fit in? Should it exclude people that violently don't fit in?

I prefer to focus my energy on the law, though, not the prisons- because if you fix the law, then fixing the prisons is not particularly important, while if you fix the prisons, and the law remains broken, there are still significant problems. I also prefer to focus on what goes right than what goes wrong- and so it's easier for me to write off what goes wrong, and so if someone can't be rehabilitated, it seems like the best option is to let them rot- and the gains from rehabilitation suggest that it's not something the public should be investing in too heavily (but there are private individuals who measure the gains rather differently).
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YourReality
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby YourReality » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:18 am UTC

Hmmmm..... To be honest I found that article/post (the one in the link) to be a bit incoherent. I couldn't quite make out whether it was trying to make a case against imprisonment, for animal abuse, or on something or other about race.

To address your question about rehabilitation, though, I think it's certainly the preferable option relative to a 'lock 'em up and forget 'em' mentality. I'm really coming at this from a pragmatic point of view so the way I see it what makes the most sense is whatever will keep the general public safe while minimizing the number if prison inmates. It doesn't do anyone any good to have people sitting in an (expensive) jail cell if they might be able to be coached into leading a productive, non-violent life. I'm a firm believer that the corrections system should include a lot more therapy time to help offenders sort out their behaviour (anger management, life skills, social skills, cognitive, behavioural, whatever is most applicable to the situation).

The other side of that coin, however, is that some people just can't be corrected. We've all heard of psychopaths, I'm sure, and while most criminals certainly don't fit that bill they are an example of people who will never be safely allowed out into society. There are other criminals as well who, by their own admission, cannot control their criminal impulses and know they will re-offend. What should the corrections system do with these individuals if they cannot be corrected? *shrug* As unpopular as the idea often is, I see little reason to keep them alive. I think the death penalty has its place.

Jennym
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby Jennym » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:49 am UTC

Yeah, I agree: it's much more convoluted than the blog post implies. Sorry also if the original link wasn't clear, it' also has a pro vegan point of view added too. I'd say if there are those who need to spend life in prison(those who can't be rehabilitated) or have to be institutionalized for mental illness, there can at least be a community service program for them to participate in such as soup kitchens or even smaller actions like making posters telling of the dangers of sexual abuse.

Sorry if this isn't coherent, I'm a bit tired and my dog's terminally ill.

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Turambar
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby Turambar » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:51 am UTC

That was one of the more insane blogs I've seen in the last couple of weeks. I thought it had a funny point about the woman convicted of baking a cat.

You simply can't abolish the prison system. Frankly, there are some people who need to be put the hell away for a while, if not forever. Without a prison system, terrible and racist though it may be, you have the choice of killing convicts outright or letting them go.

That said, marijuana should be decriminalized. That would solve all of our prison overcrowding problems in no time. Hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for mere possession of marijuana, not to mention those arrested for dealing (or "possession with intent to distribute", which generally means having an ounce or more. I know some people who could have an ounce or more just for personal use :P )
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Jennym
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby Jennym » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:37 pm UTC

I think they had a point though too: I do think in the case of Vick and the girl, rehabilitation and community service could be the best for them as long as they're not permitted to keep pets. Just a thought.

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Vaniver
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby Vaniver » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:58 pm UTC

Jennym wrote:I think they had a point though too: I do think in the case of Vick and the girl, rehabilitation and community service could be the best for them as long as they're not permitted to keep pets. Just a thought.
But, rehabilitation as long as they're not able to keep pets doesn't really make sense. Either you're willing to shake someone's hand after they get out of prison, or you might as well keep them in prison. If they don't change after rehabilitation, they're not rehabilitated.

There are, of course, problems about knowing whether or not someone is rehabilitated (Vick probably won't do any more dog fights), but I don't see much benefit in replacing a prison with walls with a prison without walls.
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ddxxdd
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby ddxxdd » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:46 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Jennym wrote:I think they had a point though too: I do think in the case of Vick and the girl, rehabilitation and community service could be the best for them as long as they're not permitted to keep pets. Just a thought.
But, rehabilitation as long as they're not able to keep pets doesn't really make sense. Either you're willing to shake someone's hand after they get out of prison, or you might as well keep them in prison. If they don't change after rehabilitation, they're not rehabilitated.

There are, of course, problems about knowing whether or not someone is rehabilitated (Vick probably won't do any more dog fights), but I don't see much benefit in replacing a prison with walls with a prison without walls.

The other thing about prison is that once you've spent a single week in prison, your career opportunities and reputation diminish sharply. If you spend a day in jail for accidentally taking a Snicker's bar without paying, then you're much, much more likely to go down the path of murder or other criminal activity. You could say that prison does the complete opposite of rehabilitation.

With that being said, you guys pretty much summed up everything else. Spend time and money rehabilitating people who will end up spending time working with society and earning money throughout the course of his or her life. Lock up everyone else.
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Jennym
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby Jennym » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:09 am UTC

You're right Vaniver, my mistake. I was of two minds about it,but that's sensible.

YourReality
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby YourReality » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:45 pm UTC

ddxxdd wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
Jennym wrote:I think they had a point though too: I do think in the case of Vick and the girl, rehabilitation and community service could be the best for them as long as they're not permitted to keep pets. Just a thought.
But, rehabilitation as long as they're not able to keep pets doesn't really make sense. Either you're willing to shake someone's hand after they get out of prison, or you might as well keep them in prison. If they don't change after rehabilitation, they're not rehabilitated.

There are, of course, problems about knowing whether or not someone is rehabilitated (Vick probably won't do any more dog fights), but I don't see much benefit in replacing a prison with walls with a prison without walls.

The other thing about prison is that once you've spent a single week in prison, your career opportunities and reputation diminish sharply. If you spend a day in jail for accidentally taking a Snicker's bar without paying, then you're much, much more likely to go down the path of murder or other criminal activity. You could say that prison does the complete opposite of rehabilitation.

With that being said, you guys pretty much summed up everything else. Spend time and money rehabilitating people who will end up spending time working with society and earning money throughout the course of his or her life. Lock up everyone else.


Did you ACTUALLY just say that prison turns petty thieves into murderers?? I'm going to wait to see if you revise that before I explain why it confuses the causal relationship at play there.......

YourReality
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby YourReality » Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:58 am UTC

OK well, I gave you a fair window to defend that silly claim that prison makes candy snitchers into murderers and nothing yet so I'm going to go ahead and poke holes in that idea. First of all you didn't explain much of a mechanism there - exactly HOW a prison would make such a dramatic change in a person - and I'm willing to bet that it's because there isn't one. Perhaps you're alluding to the idea that being in prison for a short period of time (what? a day maybe?) for such an offense will somehow lead a person to associate with hardened criminals and be unable to get a proper job, thus leading them to follow in the footsteps of hardened criminals. Well for one thing the murderers are not kept in the same prisons as candy stealers (this is what we have maximum security prisons for) so associating with them would be mighty difficult. For another thing, such a short stay hardly allows much time to associate with criminals of whatever degree of hardness you're assuming the candy stealer will turn into. Thirdly, there are plenty of respectable jobs out there that don't even require criminal record checks so having a tiny record for petty theft is unlikely to keep a person from pursuing a career. Even many jobs that DO require a criminal record check aren't looking for stupid stuff like having stolen some candy from the mall when they were a kid - they're looking for violent crimes, fraud, etc....

What you might be getting confused over here is that many hardened criminals also have petty records. This is not because petty crimes make people into hardened criminals (otherwise all people with a petty record would also ALWAYS have a record for more serious crimes). This is because people who commit crimes don't generally start with murder. They often have minor records before they escallate to serious offences but the causal factor there is highly unlikely (for the aforementioned reasons) to be the very very brief stint in prison for a minor record.

Congragulations, you've committed a few logical fallacies all at once but they get the best of all of us sometimes ;)

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ddxxdd
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby ddxxdd » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:10 pm UTC

YourReality wrote:OK well, I gave you a fair window to defend that silly claim that prison makes candy snitchers into murderers and nothing yet so I'm going to go ahead and poke holes in that idea. First of all you didn't explain much of a mechanism there - exactly HOW a prison would make such a dramatic change in a person - and I'm willing to bet that it's because there isn't one. Perhaps you're alluding to the idea that being in prison for a short period of time (what? a day maybe?) for such an offense will somehow lead a person to associate with hardened criminals and be unable to get a proper job, thus leading them to follow in the footsteps of hardened criminals. Well for one thing the murderers are not kept in the same prisons as candy stealers (this is what we have maximum security prisons for) so associating with them would be mighty difficult. For another thing, such a short stay hardly allows much time to associate with criminals of whatever degree of hardness you're assuming the candy stealer will turn into. Thirdly, there are plenty of respectable jobs out there that don't even require criminal record checks so having a tiny record for petty theft is unlikely to keep a person from pursuing a career. Even many jobs that DO require a criminal record check aren't looking for stupid stuff like having stolen some candy from the mall when they were a kid - they're looking for violent crimes, fraud, etc....

What you might be getting confused over here is that many hardened criminals also have petty records. This is not because petty crimes make people into hardened criminals (otherwise all people with a petty record would also ALWAYS have a record for more serious crimes). This is because people who commit crimes don't generally start with murder. They often have minor records before they escallate to serious offences but the causal factor there is highly unlikely (for the aforementioned reasons) to be the very very brief stint in prison for a minor record.

Congragulations, you've committed a few logical fallacies all at once but they get the best of all of us sometimes ;)


Geez, I was just exaggerating.

Let me rephrase my argument:

1. Future employers are very wary about hiring someone who has spent 3 years, 2 years, 1 years, or even a couple months in prison. Ex-convicts have a much harder time finding a job.

2. People who have trouble finding jobs and putting food on their table, ex-convicts included, are more likely to commit (or re-commit) offenses because they have no direction in life. We're talking about petty theft, drug use, etc.

3. Some people are put in prison for petty offenses. Smoking marijuana, selling marijuana to friends a week before you leave for Harvard University, assaulting a police officer because you were pissed over someone ruining the car you bought because of your promotion, etc.

All those offenses are committed by (fictional) people who have a direction in life. And yet, if they spend a few months, or even a year, in jail, they're going to lose that direction. They may even lose their sense of civility and the sanctity of life by hanging around murderers, rapists, etc., so there is a small chance that they can come out even worse.

So yes, you called me out on my exaggeration, but there is still a big issue there.
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YourReality
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby YourReality » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:23 pm UTC

What about people who come out of prison having earned a degree? Or people who have been rehabilitated and learned something from their experience? I think you're painting prison inmates with far too broad a brush. Some people will experience what you're talked about, I'm sure, but you can say just about anything and have it apply to SOME people.

DarkIye
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby DarkIye » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:08 am UTC

YourReality wrote:What about people who come out of prison having earned a degree? Or people who have been rehabilitated and learned something from their experience? I think you're painting prison inmates with far too broad a brush. Some people will experience what you're talked about, I'm sure, but you can say just about anything and have it apply to SOME people.

Unfortunately, the situation is to do with legal liability of the company. If they hire an ex-con to do, say, a desk job, and he loses his patience at work and hits someone, it's more likely the company can be successfully sued by the victim, as the victim can say "you knowingly hired a potentially dangerous person", and the jury is likely to be sympathetic to that.

Unfortunately, companies will have a hard time hiring such people for jobs where they aren't in contact with people either - they can't discriminate on a job-by-job basis as to whether they hire an ex-con for that position or not, so if you want to hire one to herd your beef cattle, you've got to be open to hiring them to serve burgers at your outlets too.

EDIT: This is in addition, of course, to whatever other perceived or real disadvantages there are to hiring an ex-con instead of a similar other person.
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Re: Prison abolition

Postby u38cg » Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:12 pm UTC

YourReality wrote:OK well, I gave you a fair window to defend that silly claim that prison makes candy snitchers into murderers and nothing yet so I'm going to go ahead and poke holes in that idea. First of all you didn't explain much of a mechanism there - exactly HOW a prison would make such a dramatic change in a person - and I'm willing to bet that it's because there isn't one.


Prison is a traumatic experience. It is a physically brutal environment where rape and sexual assault are a norm. You will not leave as the same person you came in as, never mind the influence that having been in prison has over your choices for your future.

Perhaps you're alluding to the idea that being in prison for a short period of time (what? a day maybe?) for such an offense will somehow lead a person to associate with hardened criminals and be unable to get a proper job, thus leading them to follow in the footsteps of hardened criminals. Well for one thing the murderers are not kept in the same prisons as candy stealers (this is what we have maximum security prisons for) so associating with them would be mighty difficult.


This is a sensible thing to do, but it is not true in all locales. A common system is to place all new prisoners in a maximum security jail and move them out as they show good behaviour over a period of time. Of course, if you fight back when you are assaulted, that's your good behaviour stuffed.

For another thing, such a short stay hardly allows much time to associate with criminals of whatever degree of hardness you're assuming the candy stealer will turn into. Thirdly, there are plenty of respectable jobs out there that don't even require criminal record checks so having a tiny record for petty theft is unlikely to keep a person from pursuing a career. Even many jobs that DO require a criminal record check aren't looking for stupid stuff like having stolen some candy from the mall when they were a kid - they're looking for violent crimes, fraud, etc....


Unless you have experience of hiring a large number of candidates I'd suggest you don't make that argument, because it's simply wrong. Employers will treat a jail sentence like a hot potato, and it will come up. When you work at-will, there's no penalty towards letting someone go because you find out they were jailed.

What you might be getting confused over here is that many hardened criminals also have petty records. This is not because petty crimes make people into hardened criminals (otherwise all people with a petty record would also ALWAYS have a record for more serious crimes).


I'm not going to debate this because I have neither the raw data or the studies to make a conclusion either way. I suspect, however, that it's wrong. We should all here be well aware of the power of group psychology and how your environment affects your outlook; I can't see how any significant period of time spent behind bars wouldn't have a profound effect on *anyone*.
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