Friday, August 27, 2010

What is the purpose of Prison? Is there a better way?

What is the purpose of prison? Why do we use it as a form of punishment? Isn't male rape the real punishment?

Tell me what you think.

The purpose of prison is:

a) A deterrent through example?
b) A way to keep society safe by locking up offenders?
c) An opportunity to rehabilitate convicts in preparation for reintegration in society?
d) A way to punish by causing pain an anguish?
e) To provide jobs for people with no skills beyond being an asshole? (according to Ginx)
f) To lock up political dissidents to shut them up? (Such as liberal atheist bloggers)
g) To provide slave labor for the State?
h) To provide a steady supply of organ donors and medical test subjects for undead Republicans?

I propose the following reforms

1- Prison is to be used mostly for violent offenders or for offenders that pose a threat to national security or to property, including, but not limited to : murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, theft, arson, terrorism, treason, sedition, espionage, desertion from the military in times of war (you should have thought about it before you signed your life away on that dotted line), incest and other such crap not tolerated in civilized society.
2- Fines, payment of restitution and indentured labor shall be used for all other offenses where offenders pose a low risk to people or property.

In many cases, criminal behavior is a symptom of mental illness, and if quacks such as psychoanalysts and neuro-psychiatrists can help 'cure' the illness, well maybe the offender should be allowed to reintegrate society, (after paying fines and restitution, of course).

If the non-violent criminal behavior is the result of economic despair, well perhaps job training would be a more effective use of public funds that investment in larger prisons. Everyone hates to pay the local school tax, but if it keeps the kids from breaking into your home for crack money, maybe it's worth it to invest in public education. (Go ahead libertarians, assault me with insults, it's your first amendment right)

But in any case, as explained in the book Freakonomics, the best way to reduce crime is not to improve the economy or have more police, or more prisons, or longer sentences, or more laws, or fewer guns, no! The best way to reduce crime is to reduce the number of criminals... that means USE BIRTH CONTROL if you can't afford your grocery bill, and get an abortion if you f*cked up. We don't want your stupid kids stealing our chrome rims fourteen years from now.

Reducing the birth rate will have the following impacts on society:

1. Reduction in welfare costs (fewer mouths for Uncle Sam to feed)
2. Reduction in this generation's crime rate. (fewer deadbeat parents to rob the local McDonalds for infant formula money)
3. Reduction in school taxes (fewer local kids to send to school 6 to 18 years from now).
4. Reduction in the next generation's crime rate (fewer crack-head teenagers to mug you on the train sixteen years from now).
5. Aging of the population.
6. Reduction in Social Security and Medicare benefits (fewer people paying into it)
7. Increase in automation and robotic replacements for fewer human workers
8. Increase in the power of the technocracy over mere mortals (those building and fixing robots will rule the world) (it's not a robot uprising we have to worry about, it's the rise of the robot makers! (until we have robots making robots, at least))
9. Reduction in soil salinization and erosion (lower need for farmland)
10. Restoration of fisheries (lower need in seafood, and reduced ocean dead zones thanks to less farm runoff)
11. Reforestation (lower need in construction timber)
12. Reduction in global climate change (reduced need for fossil fuel).
13. Increase in longevity (as a result of heavier investment in medicine and biotechnologies to reduce the death rate (to offset the decrease in the birthrate))
14. Increase of the retirement age (as people live longer because of medical advances, they can work longer, remain a consumer longer, remain a tax payer longer.)
15. Increase in unemployment caused by too many robots stealing jobs from people.
16. Increase in poverty and the crime rate.
17. Extermination of mankind by the robots.
18. No more crime, ***problem solved***. All hail Skynet.


  1. Indentured labor... aka slavery... aka incentive to arrest people... aka abusive system...

    ALso, job training is useless in an economy with 30% unemployment among people without a college degree. At this point, I would just encourage people to leave their own neighborhoods and rob the rich, instead of victimizing fellow struggling individuals (which is statistically what happens, which is perhaps why poor people have a high crime rate and a high incidence of being the victims of crime).

    Birth control is a great thing... but good luck getting the people who are the problem to use it.

  2. I think indentured servitude would just encourage unjust arrests and convictions, since you're trying to connect the criminal to the repayment. I would prefer some sort of crime insurance or criminal repayment plan through the government (I think the latter would be more successful than the former).

    Your plan doesn't account for the fact that the overwhelming (and disturbingly high) majority of crimes go unsolved or unconvicted. What is the plan for these individuals?

    So in the end, you would have people who are convicted paying off a surplus of criminal losses if you try to make it "pay for itself." I know you aren't racist, but the end result would be. You'd have an overwhelming number of minorities working as state slaves. I don't know...

    I'll tell you would I think would be interesting, though equally abusable: gladiatorial death matches involving deathrow inmates, and possibly also the criminally insane.

  3. I thought about a 'crime insurance' system, but even that would be open to insurance fraud.

    You are right about unsolved crimes but I guess if you can't find the perpetrator, you can't put him/her in jail either. I'm just saying, if you KNOW who did it, putting them into penal servitude (or community service) would be better than having them rot in jail.

    Local kids spray-painted your garage door? Make them repaint the whole house. Asshole stole a candy bar in your store? Have him wear a sandwich board sign advertising your business for a week.

    Gladiator matches: what if the convict is actually innocent? I guess he's going to die anyway, since he's already on death row, but I think inmates should be given the choice.

    As a matter of fact, I oppose the death penalty. States shouldn't be in the business of killing people. Because then you just encourage unjust arrests and convictions to eliminate political dissidents.

  4. Okay see... you've clearly given this a lot of thought, but your personal experience is insufficient for handling this problem.

    Kids spray painting your house? So if someone spray paints racists slurs, you have to invite them over to your place to clean it up? And you have to have a thief advertising for you if you run a shop? I'm sure he'll have only kind words for those passing by...

    Then there's the small matter of... these not being the problems society struggles with. How do you repay, rape, assault, or damage that would take a lifetime to pay off?

    I just find far too many holes in this, and the fact that people who study criminology for a living don't advocate this approach is enough for me to disregard it as fanciful dreaming.

  5. Rape, assault and murder are not repayable monetarily, and no victim of family of a victim would want a perpetrator like that working in their home. These people pose a high risk and should be in prison.

    As far as a low-risk offender doing work to repay the victim, I suppose their wages could be garnished as an alternative, but I'm not sure they would have a job to begin with. Another option would be to have the perpetrator perform labor for the state, and then the state would garnish those wages. I hope it doesn't sound like rewarding crminals with a state job, because that's not the idea.