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Starwatcher162536
03-12-2009, 09:56 PM
I have never really understood how our society thinks about crime & punishment.

How exactly is it that a prisoner pays society for his/her crime by going and sitting in a jail cell for some arbitrary amount of time?

From my perspective, all that criminal is doing in jail is using up our society's resources while providing nothing worthwhile in exchange. Certainly an odd way of "paying for your crime".

Why are there not mandatory jobs a prisoner must perform to at least help alleviate the cost of said prisoners incarceration?

AemJeff
03-12-2009, 10:35 PM
I have never really understood how our society thinks about crime & punishment.

How exactly is it that a prisoner pays society for his/her crime by going and sitting in a jail cell for some arbitrary amount of time?

From my perspective, all that criminal is doing in jail is using up our society's resources while providing nothing worthwhile in exchange. Certainly an odd way of "paying for your crime".

Why are there not mandatory jobs a prisoner must perform to at least help alleviate the cost of said prisoners incarceration?

I think you're trying to promote a metaphor way over its pay-grade here.

TwinSwords
03-13-2009, 12:09 AM
...all that criminal is doing in jail is using up our society's resources while providing nothing worthwhile in exchange. Certainly an odd way of "paying for your crime".

There are three primary purposes of incarceration:

(1) Deterrence. That little article in the paper that says your neighbor is going to spend 30 days in the tank for his 3rd drunk driving offense, or his daughter is spending 90 days because she got busted stealing clothes at the mall, serve as a deterrent to other people who might be considering similar crimes.

(2) Isolation. Putting people in jail/prison gets them out of society and off the streets, so they are unable to commit more crime, whether rape, drug dealing, murder, burglary, etc. The point (effect) is to prevent further crime from being committed by the incarcerated individual. (It works!)

(3) Punishment. Exacting retribution for the crimes.

While you may not realize it, #1 and #2 definitely qualify as "providing [something] worthwhile" to society.

Starwatcher162536
03-14-2009, 04:40 PM
There are three primary purposes of incarceration:

(1) Deterrence. That little article in the paper that says your neighbor is going to spend 30 days in the tank for his 3rd drunk driving offense, or his daughter is spending 90 days because she got busted stealing clothes at the mall, serve as a deterrent to other people who might be considering similar crimes.

(2) Isolation. Putting people in jail/prison gets them out of society and off the streets, so they are unable to commit more crime, whether rape, drug dealing, murder, burglary, etc. The point (effect) is to prevent further crime from being committed by the incarcerated individual. (It works!)

(3) Punishment. Exacting retribution for the crimes.

While you may not realize it, #1 and #2 definitely qualify as "providing [something] worthwhile" to society.

Certainly (1) and (2) have real value, I have no qualms with saying that our incarceration system is a needed service for our society.

However, (1) and (2) are provided by our incarceration system, not the prisoner. I stand by my statement that the prisoner is contributing nothing to society while he/she is in a jail cell eating public resources.

Perhaps this is just me promoting the metaphor "pay for your crime" above it paygrade, but i still do not see why there are not more mandatory work programs.

bjkeefe
03-14-2009, 05:04 PM
Perhaps this is just me promoting the metaphor "pay for your crime" above it paygrade, but i still do not see why there are not more mandatory work programs.

One problem I have heard in this area is that people outside the prison don't want the prisoners taking jobs and work contracts away from them. There would also be, I imagine, the need for oversight to keep corruption at bay. If you've ever read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, as opposed to watching the movie, you'll see what I mean.

This whole attitude of fretting about people in jail, sitting around eating food and watching teevee ON OUR DIME, seems excessively Puritanical. (Or maybe Calvinist would be a better term. One of those tight-assed groups, anyway.) I can understand the emotion, but I think it's one not to indulge, and practically speaking, I also think trying to force prisoners to work would end up being a nightmare of bureaucratic overhead.

And if you want to get really crazy, think about how a prison labor scenario might play out -- real incentives to incarcerate people could arise. Before you laugh, look into some of the already existing problems with the so-called prison-industrial complex.

Seems to me it's a better investment for society to apply the resources to a goal of helping the prisoners, so that when they get out, they have some hope of finding something else to do besides committing more crimes.

pampl
03-14-2009, 10:31 PM
I think "pay" just means 'suffer' in that metaphor. I don't think paying for your crimes, or your sins, or your insolence, or whatever, means that someone actually ends up receiving the metaphorical currency you're losing. It's like being forced to wander purgatory for a certain amount of time, or being forced to reincarnate again (maybe even as something really lame), etc. The concept of justice is pretty non-utilitarian that way; it doesn't matter how well off people are in total so long as their positions relative to each other are what they 'deserve' or 'have coming' to them. In practice I don't think people even really care so much that the good end up well off, just that the bad end up screwed, so actually collecting your 'payment' isn't necessary.

Starwatcher162536
03-14-2009, 11:51 PM
One problem I have heard in this area is that people outside the prison don't want the prisoners taking jobs and work contracts away from them. There would also be, I imagine, the need for oversight to keep corruption at bay. If you've ever read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, as opposed to watching the movie, you'll see what I mean.

This whole attitude of fretting about people in jail, sitting around eating food and watching teevee ON OUR DIME, seems excessively Puritanical. (Or maybe Calvinist would be a better term. One of those tight-assed groups, anyway.) I can understand the emotion, but I think it's one not to indulge, and practically speaking, I also think trying to force prisoners to work would end up being a nightmare of bureaucratic overhead.

[...]



Ehh, fair enough, it's not something I have spent a whole lot of time thinking about. If we don't have mandatory work programs because the practical implications of doing so would make it just not worth it to even try, so be it.

It's just every few years you get some crime story that gets alot of press, inevitably all the politicians then harp on and on about increasing deterrence which then leads to longer jail sentences.

I just thought society might benefit more from increasing the deterrence by having mandatory work programs then just increasing the time duration of the incarceration.

bjkeefe
03-15-2009, 12:22 AM
[...]

As far as politicians leaping on a hot story and piously promoting longer sentences goes, you'll get this much disagreement from me: 0.

popcorn_karate
03-16-2009, 07:45 PM
after college i worked at an engineering company. My first job was working with prison labor to produce GIS data for a project.

what pissed me off about this is that out of 29 or so people graduating with an expertise in GIS from my university, 2 or three of us found jobs immediately.

but if only we had committed a felony or two we could have been working...

anyway, i think prison labor is an absolutely awful idea. it provides incentives to lock people up for no good reason, and deprives lawful citizens of jobs in favor of convicts.

p.s. GIS is geographic information systems

uncle ebeneezer
03-17-2009, 01:53 AM
Re- Shawshank: What was the prison corruption difference between the movie and the book? I read it and saw the movie (probably my all-time favorite flick) but I don't remember the difference in that part of the story between the two.

bjkeefe
03-17-2009, 02:10 AM
Re- Shawshank: What was the prison corruption difference between the movie and the book? I read it and saw the movie (probably my all-time favorite flick) but I don't remember the difference in that part of the story between the two.

Maybe you're right -- I only saw the movie once, and that was a long time ago -- but it seemed to me that the book spent a lot more time describing the warden's various scams related to prison work crews; e.g., low-balling, taking kickbacks not to bid, etc. I remember the movie only touching on this glancingly, and not really getting into the details of how it all worked.

uncle ebeneezer
03-17-2009, 02:24 AM
I think you're right. More detail in the book. I thought you were referring to the nature of the scams being different.

bjkeefe
03-17-2009, 02:30 AM
I think you're right. More detail in the book. I thought you were referring to the nature of the scams being different.

I guess I didn't say it very well, but that's what I meant when citing the book originally -- King told stories which sounded like he'd done a fair amount of research on this sort of thing.

TwinSwords
03-27-2009, 03:27 AM
One problem I have heard in this area is that people outside the prison don't want the prisoners taking jobs and work contracts away from them. There would also be, I imagine, the need for oversight to keep corruption at bay. If you've ever read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, as opposed to watching the movie, you'll see what I mean.

Real life example:

"ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- Pennsylvania's highest court on Thursday overturned hundreds of juvenile convictions issued by a corrupt judge who took millions of dollars in kickbacks from youth detention centers.

...

Federal prosecutors charged Ciavarella and another judge with taking $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in private lockups."

(Via (http://www.eschatonblog.com/2009/03/kids-today.html))

bjkeefe
03-27-2009, 03:32 AM
Real life example:

"ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- Pennsylvania's highest court on Thursday overturned hundreds of juvenile convictions issued by a corrupt judge who took millions of dollars in kickbacks from youth detention centers.

...

Federal prosecutors charged Ciavarella and another judge with taking $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in private lockups."

(Via (http://www.eschatonblog.com/2009/03/kids-today.html))

Damn. A good example, which I'd had at hand (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2009/02/new-lows-in-scumbaggery-reached.html) six weeks ago, but forgot.